npoess1The latest victim of the federal government shutdown is a crucial player in the space and intelligence world, the Aerospace Corporation, which has had to cut back the work of 60 percent of its 3,500 employees.

“The Aerospace Corporation started implementing a partial work shutdown on Oct. 3, after the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center directed Aerospace to stop work immediately on all but excepted mission-critical tasks,” the federally-funded entity said in a statement. The corporation is one of the Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (fondly known as FFRDCs), and it supplies the Air Force’s space and intelligence programs and agencies with many of the world’s most experienced and respected experts in their fields.

Among the programs affected by the stop work order are GPS 3, the next generation GPSD satellites, the next generation weather satellites and most of the corporation’s internal research and development work, a spokesman told me.

Not all of the 2,000 employees affected will be furloughed. Some Aerospace Corp. personnel will have to stop work altogether, but as technical specialists, many of them support multiple programs at once, some of which may be shut down while others continue. The Aerospace Corp. provides crucial support work to some things that the Air Force has decided are “mission-critical tasks” that include “launch operations and support, resolution of on-orbit anomalies, and execution of ongoing satellite flight operations.” So that means employees who work on rocket launches, track the orbits of satellites, and help fly and operate satellites won’t be touched.

The biggest effects on the defense and intelligence industries are likely to be slower awards of contracts, because the corporation often serves as an honest broker in evaluating program bids, a senior industry source told me. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) may well come out more slowly because the corporation often vets them for technical issues.

The intelligence community is likely to be affected as well by those delays, although the spokesman would not discuss that issue. The corporation provides support to a wide array of intelligence programs and agencies. With the large number of intelligence civilians who have been furloughed — roughly 70 percent, including support staff and intelligence analysts — a former senior intelligence official said, programs the corporation works on are almost certainly affected. “While this is an SMC announcement and response, I wouldn’t assume that all black work continues. As you know, DNI (James) Clapper has said that 70% of the IC is furloughed. This surely flows to contractors,” the former official wrote in an email.

It’s important to bear in mind that the number of Aerospace Corporation workers affected may shrink, a veteran space industry executive told me in an email, because the Pentagon has decided civilian defense employees can return to work. Lockheed lowered the number of its employees furloughed from 3,000 to 2,400 after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the decision.

Comments

  • Charlie

    When a country stops research and developments a country is spiriling down hill. It will have adverse affects on our country economically andsocially for years to come It’s time to tell Obama and Boehner Enough Is Enough so stop harming America and angering we citizens. There should be a set limit to terms in office they can serve. this will help stop the old boys club we now see in our government.

  • Sejarah Melayu

    The US shutdown is good news to all the people of the world, except for the
    Americans & its Zionism allies. The plan to make war in Syria had to be
    abandoned, as now the US doesn’t have the money to even pay for its jet fuel
    for its fighter planes. Almost all airborne training except for mission in
    Afghanistan had to be shelved and more than 2/3 of its fighter planes had to
    be grounded. Even some of the airplane technicians had to be furloughed. No
    more war is good for the peaceful co-existance for the people of the world,
    but bad for the American & its Zionism allies. Now they don’t even have the money to fly the jets, bomb & kill other people anymore…. ;-)