Thursday, October 24, 2013

NASA Chief, U.S. Senator Visit Goddard After Shutdown

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese and Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski talk to the press during their tour of the NASA Goddard facilities. They are standing outside a clean room for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS). Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Tuesday afternoon, marking their first visit since the end of the two-week government shutdown. Bolden and Mikulski viewed several Goddard missions, including the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM), Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) and the James Webb Space Telescope. While touring the missions, Bolden and Mikulski spoke to key scientists and engineers for each mission, including GPM Project Manager Art Azarbarzin, MMS Project Manager Craig Tooley, Webb telescope Integrated Science Instrument Module Manager Craig Dunn, and Webb Telescope Senior Project Scientist John Mather.

The administrator and senator received updates on each mission and learned how the shutdown, which forced the majority of Goddard employees off the job, changed their progress. Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese said the shutdown affected each of NASA’s 20 missions in development, but the specific impacts for each mission were not yet known.

Mikulski, who is chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she was happy to see NASA employees back to work and wanted to make sure a shutdown forcing furloughs doesn’t happen again.

“How do you spell relief: it’s called work,” Mikulski said. “The shutdown cost us time in scientific advancements and money, and it meant all those wonderful men and women had to be furloughed.”

Mikulski stopped to speak with GPM engineers about how the shutdown affected their work, calling it “a sad day.”

“All this talent came to work, wanted to work, and we’re screwing around,” Mikulski said.

Mikulski said she wanted to thank NASA employees for their service, citing both their scientific and personal responsibilities, and let them know they are important.

“People work very hard here,” Mikulski said. “Whether you are a facilities manager or a master physicist, I want to say thank you.”

After learning about some of each mission’s science, Mikulski said her goal was to ensure NASA received predictable and reliable funding for 2014 in order to carry out the complex projects.

“I want to keep the ship afloat and functioning the way it should,” Mikulski said.

Bolden said it was always an honor to have Mikulski at the center.

“The first thing she asked about was not machines, but people,” Bolden said. “She has been a supporter of all of us at NASA.”

Credit: NASA

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