On Wednesday, the US Congress passed a budget deal reopening the government and avoiding the much worse debt ceiling collision by only a couple of hours. Of course, we can expect loads more fun when the short-term deal runs out in January. But for now, government operations are back on track, and for NASA enthusiasts, that’s definitely a good thing.
NASA had been 97% closed during the shutdown, one of the highest ratios of any federal agency. Only critical operations for active space missions were running. The shutdown particularly threatened the MAVEN mission to Mars, which is due to launch in late November or early December.
NASA announced early on that MAVEN was cleared for launch as soon as the planets were properly aligned, but if a protracted shutdown had extended into November or December, the launch probably would still have been threatened.
Reopening NASA also means that other important operations like doing actual science, watching for dangerous asteroids, and maintaining the websites can start up again. So it’s all smooth sailing for now…at least until after the holidays.