HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A celebration in honor of Werner Von Braun's legacy drew members of the national space community to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Wednesday evening. And at the back of their minds, and even mentioned in a prayer before dinner, was the nation's current financial state.
Despite financial uncertainty, many in the space community are looking to the future.
"So far, it's okay, it's a little bit of a vacation, but more than that and [those who are furloughed's] paycheck is directly affected," said David Smith, Vice President for Victory Solutions, a company that works to support Marshall Space Flight Center's development of the Space Launch System (SLS).
Smith says government contractors are staying busy...for now.
"Some contractors if their contracts are forward funding can continue to work, so my company is actually working during the furlough."
However Smith warns, contractors can only accomplish so much without civil servants back on the job. He believes if a budget deal isn't soon reached, contractors could see their workload diminish.
With so much dependent on the whims of Congress, Smith says those in the space industry are looking for ways to excite the nation about space.
They are looking for more people like Dennis Tito, the keynote speaker at the Von Braun symposium event, and the first civilian in space.
"If he hadn't gone to space station and had that vision himself i don't think he'd be here to inspire us to maybe take our systems to Mars in 2018," said Smith.
He says if civilians can see the wonders of space, travel around Mars or to the Moon, then perhaps funding wouldn't be so tight, and the space program can expand once again.
"With enough national will you can land people in Mars in the next decade if there is interest from the national standpoint. The hardware will be there."