NASA to release furlough plan if government shuts down



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is hopeful lawmakers will avoid a government shut down next week, but the agency said it must still prepare for that possibility.

NASA said it will release its shutdown plan Friday which will include unpaid furloughs for thousands of Kennedy Space Center workers.

Dale Ketcham is a University of Central Florida professor and a NASA expert. He said even if the shutdown doesn't happen, planning for it is an unneeded distraction.

"The frustration is all directed appropriately at Washington, but tragically, this kind of problem is becoming the new normal," Ketcham said.

"It slows things down. NASA has been working aggressively on a variety of fronts," Ketcham said.

That would include the agency's commercial crew program and efforts to advance space exploration.

An agency spokesman said a shutdown would result in the vast majority of its 18,000 civil servants being furloughed nationwide Friday.

About 2,000 of them are at the Kennedy Space Center. Not to mention, the roughly 6,000 contractors working at the space center. Some essential employees might be allowed to still show up for work. They just won't get paid.

"The whole thing is an exercise in how (to) inhibit the economy's growth and recovery and yet we keep doing this," Ketcham said.