Govt. shutdown: US military ops continue while civilian services heavily affected

Despite the US government shutdown, military operations will continue as normal while non-essential civilian services will be heavily curtailed, SpaceX launches will be postponed and the tourism industry greatly impacted.

The US government shut down Saturday after failing to reach an agreement on an approved budget for federal agencies. Government funding expired midnight Friday, sparking the start of the first government shutdown since 2013.

A government shutdown results in large numbers of federal employees being sent home as agencies operate on a minimal basis with non-essential staff placed on furlough. Here RT.com looks at some of the areas affected.

SpaceX grounded

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has had to postpone a planned test of its Falcon Heavy Rocket as a result of the shutdown.

“Due to the shutdown removing key members of the civilian workforce, the 45th Space Wing will not be able to support commercial static fires taking place on KSC [Kennedy Space Center]," the 45th Space Wing Air Force unit said Sunday, WTSP reports. “Without our civilian workforce, the 45th SW is unable to support launch operations as well."

Operations are also on hold at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA

NASA has two spacewalks planned in the next few weeks, which will both be affected by the shutdown should it continue. The space agency estimated almost 17,500 employees, or 85 percent of its workforce, would be furloughed during a shutdown, according to a plan put together last November.

“When it comes to station operations, we have a plan,” Kenny Todd, NASA’s ISS mission operations integration manager, said during a press briefing on Thursday. “Mission-essential, critical personnel will be on site, will be working, will be continuing the mission. So we don’t see that as any kind of impact going forward when it comes to our daily operations.”

Astronauts on board the International Space Station, as well as the support staff operating on the ground, will continue operations.  

National Parks and Statue of Liberty closed

National Parks’ employees are largely placed on furlough during a shutdown. During the last one in 2013, their closure sparked anger among citizens. President Trump is reportedly taking steps to keep a number of parks and monuments open during the shutdown in order to avoid a repeat of the outrage.

Despite this, parks began closing on Saturday, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, big tourist attractions in New York. The Governor of New York is to use state funds to reopen the iconic statue of Liberty Monday, Reuters reports.

Zoos and Smithsonian

The shutdown could see zoos close, which would spell disaster for fans of the popular panda cam at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington.

The Smithsonian announced it still has funding from the previous year, and will use that to stay open as long as funds last. “The Smithsonian, including its museums, research centers & the National Zoo, will be OPEN Monday, Jan. 22,” it said. “The Smithsonian can use prior year funds still available to us to do so. We will update our status beyond Monday as soon as we know,” it said.  ‬

READ MORE: Baby panda meets media in US zoo

According to a statement by the Smithsonian Institution, a shutdown would stop the panda, lion and elephant cameras from filming. “National Zoo live-animal cameras, including the panda cam, will not be broadcasting,” it said. 

Luckily, the animals will still be fed. "A shutdown will not affect the Zoo's commitment to the safety of staff and the standard excellence in animal care.”

Military

A government shutdown doesn’t affect the US military operations overseas. Active duty personnel remain working as normal, while non-essential civilian personnel are furloughed.

Should the shutdown go on past February however, many military personnel will be expected to work without being paid.

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