FET 155 Hours – Furlough Report

Switching up the accounting method today in order to make it easier for me to track.  Furlough Elapsed Time (FET) is the time since the Government shutdown on Tuesday, October 1st at 12:01 am until the time when I start this post (usually 11 EST). Now, I don’t have to wonder if I should include weekend days or not.  This is just the total time our government has been shut down.

Furlough beard 10-7

My wife called the gray hairs on my chin ‘cute.’

Duration of Furlough: 6.5 days and counting

Work not done: We start off every Monday with our Weekly Tactical Meeting.  Here we review who is on–console in Mission Control this week and next, who is supporting simulations for crew or flight control team training, what deadlines do we have this week, and what issues need to be addressed this week.  The types of tactical issues we deal with range from the Russians wanting to load some last-minute trash on a US cargo vehicle or vice versa, processing flight rule changes in prep for the next mission, uplinking a software update to ISS, to meeting with the astronaut office to discuss updates to crew training.  The purpose of most of the discussion is to see where we have unresolved issues, what we’re doing to resolve them and is any management support needed to help prod things along.  Since most of our work is tied to the launch of a vehicle or another flight milestone, we need to make sure all of our prep work is done on-time.  Letting something slide until next week doesn’t cut out when millions of dollars are spent making sure rockets launch as scheduled.

Outlook for Continuing Resolution passage by Congress: Poorer?

Boehner is now demanding more cuts in order to agree to raise the debt limit.  Looks like we’re still going nowhere fast.

Have I showered today? Yes!  Furlough beard survived the weekend!

Chores done: Grocery shopping.

I normally do this with at least 1 kid in tow on a Saturday morning, so doing it today with no kids and an empty store was actually a treat.  I approach grocery shopping the same way we approach ISS cargo – what’s the most efficient way for me to group and pack things so that I can unload them and put them away as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, I don’t have my own personal bar code reader or stowage software to track things.

Wife-Requested Tasks: Come to her school (she’s an elementary school librarian) and help with her Star Wars Reads day activities. With no school Friday, my wife decided to do her activities today, including having some local members of the 501st show up to take pictures with the kids. I get to be the photographer! Sorry, kids.  My wife teaches at a title 1 school with a number of disadvantaged kids, so she goes all out to try and have fun experiences for these kids.

Video games played: None.

Mood: Annoyed.  This is beyond ridiculous and just needs to be done already.

Also, even though back pay has been approved, no federal employees will get that back pay until the shutdown is over.  So, while it’s a relief we’ll get it, we’re not quite out of the woods yet.

Furlough Fun Fact: As being on-call, I can only read emails related to the topic that I am on-call for.

I can now legally check my email but only for items related to our Increment 38 Flight Readiness Review.

Song of the day: Duel of the Fates – John Williams

What happens if NASA funding stays the same or is reduced further?

So far, House Republican leadership has not targeted NASA for any further reductions in funding.  The House has already proposed NASA funding at $16.6 billion for next year.  From space.com:

The House panel’s proposed 2014 appropriation is about $300 million less than what NASA ended up with for 2013, roughly $1.2 billion below the agency’s 2012 budget and about $1.1 billion less than what the White House requested for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

When President Obama first  took office, the Augustine Commission evaluated NASA missions and budget and concluded that NASA needed an additional $3 billion per year in order to achieve the goals they had been given.  What that commission found is that in recent decades, NASA has been underfunded to achieve the goals its been given by this country’s leadership.  President Bush proposed the Constellation program, but never fully funded it. Despite a push to rectify that situation, Obama scuttled the Aries I rocket, but kept the Orion capsule and the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy rocket and identified a new objective – a mission to capture and rendezvous with an asteroid. Of course with the current environment in Washington, Republicans in the house won’t agree to fund that mission.  So we’re right back to the same old problem – a program with inadequate funding.

People accuse NASA of just being a government jobs program, but the reality is NASA returns a lot to the nation’s economy in addition to furthering scientific research and increasing our understanding of the universe in which we live.  But continuously under-funding programs means stretching out development schedules, mission timelines, and/or cancelling missions outright.  That leaves us with programs with 10 years or longer horizons that won’t survive the change in presidential administrations, which means we’ll do a lot of work towards a mission that will never fly, which means the agency is a jobs program.  If you want NASA to make meaningful achievements that continue to inspire not only the nation but the entire world, then you have to fund the programs appropriately.

You get what you pay for and if you under-fund the agency without de-scoping the mission, we’ll never achieve anything meaningful.  So someone will accuse NASA of being a jobs program, then cut our budget and then act surprised when we don’t get something done on time. Continuing to fund the agency at sequester levels ($16.6 billion) ensures a continuation of this cycle. You can add this to the reasons I currently support the Democrats.

If you missed it:

F + 1 Day Furlough Report

F + 2 Days Furlough Report

F + 3 Days Furlough Report

F + 4 Days Furlough Report

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About Jason
Family man. NASA manager. Writer. Football fan. Hockey fan. Deist. Left of center. Left-handed. Born in New Jersey, raised in Philadelphia, college educated in Massachusetts, now living in Houston. Thoughts here are my own.

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