The looming government shutdown could extend its gloomy reach to space.
If the federal government shuts down at midnight on Saturday, NASA, like all other agencies, will be affected.
According to the agency's most recent public plan published in November 2017, all but the most essential employees will be placed on furlough if a shutdown comes to pass.
NASA TV and all NASA websites — the most public facing part of the agency — will also be suspended during the shutdown.
An astronaut selfie during a spacewalk.
However, International Space Station (ISS) operations that protect the cosmonauts and astronauts risking their lives in space will continue without interruption.
"First, NASA currently is operating the ISS with a crew of six astronauts/cosmonauts, which has been in continuous operation since 1998," NASA wrote in its plan.
"To protect the life of the crew as well as assets themselves, we would continue to support planned operations of the ISS during any funding hiatus."
That said, a shutdown won't necessarily be business-as-usual for space station astronauts and cosmonauts.
NASA is planning a spacewalk on Tuesday with astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle to perform maintenance on the International Space Station.
Even if the government shuts down, NASA will continue on with the spacewalk, also called an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), using essential personnel.
"When it comes to station operations, we have a plan. Mission essential, critical personnel will be on site, will be working, will be continuing the mission," Kenny Todd, NASA’s International Space Station operations integration manager, said during a briefing Thursday.
"We’ll see all the same, the normal mission critical folks on site and we’ll continue to execute the EVA plan and everything that’s coming in the near term after that, no impact."
That said, it won't be your average spacewalk.
Under usual circumstances, these walks in space — which effectively amount to the most dangerous activities an astronaut can perform in orbit — are aired live on NASA TV for media and the public to see.
It's unclear whether NASA will air any coverage of the spacewalk Tuesday if the shutdown does occur, but in all likelihood, whatever live footage they provide will be limited.
All NASA centers scattered around the U.S. function with skeleton crews during shutdowns.
A chart accompanying the 2017 NASA letter showed that for 2015 staffing levels, Johnson Space Center's employees would decline from 3,057 to between 200 and 300.
According to that same chart, Kennedy Space Center's staffing levels would fall from 1,989 people to between 100 and 200.
That's significant in part because next week, SpaceX is expected to conduct a test firing of its new Falcon Heavy rocket ahead of its maiden flight later in the month at Kennedy Space Center. The agency depends on Kennedy staff for support during these kinds of tests.
While the Elon Musk founded company is confident that a government shutdown shouldn't affect operations for the test, it's still possible that, depending on staffing levels at Kennedy, they won't be able to fire up the rocket during the shutdown.
During a government shutdown in 2013, NASA was nearly completely shuttered, though astronauts on the space station remained safe and were looked after by essential employees on the ground.