The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Happy 55th birthday, NASA! To celebrate, 97 percent of you get an unpaid vacation.

A government shutdown is just like cake, right? (NASA)

NASA, the space agency that put the first man on the moon, turns 55 today. It made that nifty graphic above to celebrate -- presumably before the vast majority of their staff was furloughed. Some 97 percent of the staff is currently unable to go to work. Among them, those who kept the Internet abreast of "potentially hazardous" asteroids.

In fact, basically the only people who are working in the agency are those responsible for the safe operation of satellites and the international space station, and “other activities involving protection of life and property,” according to the NASA contingency plan. That includes a few ongoing research projects, but only in cases where suspending the research would do “serious damage to property." Basically, working NASA staffers are lonelier than Major Tom right now.