Thanks to an observant reader, I was reminded that I left the last post as sort of a cliff hanger. So here’s a quick update on where we stand as related to this seemingly unending shutdown (so hard to resist a “bulkhead” related joke here, but I will). Good news! NSF has been able to lift the 30-day spending cap. We are authorized to spend funds as long as we have them. And according to our calculations and with a bit of short-term belt tightening, we should be good for the foreseeable future. No unnecessary stop orders from OSU to GIS are expected.
Meanwhile, work continues apace. We continue to have our weekly status meetings (although NSF is notably absent). Construction at the shipyard continues unimpeded. They’re on to their second module. And discussions and planning continues for our transition to operations phase within OSU and with our partners at URI. Importantly, and unlike our heroic service members at with the U.S. Coast Guard, everyone continues to receive a paycheck. If we were actually government employees (in NSF or, say NOAA), our status would be much more complicated.
We’ve had our ups and downs along the way so far, this being one of them. But to hear some truly crazy government-induced project challenges, I recommend the book Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern (their Project Manager). This is the same spacecraft that did the fly by of Thule Ultima on New Year’s Day, so you know how the story ends. But the self-induced headaches they had to overcome were truly monumental.
Thanks again for reading. More soon!