HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AL.COM) - Nearly 2,500 NASA civil service workers returned to their jobs at Marshall Space Flight Center at noon Thursday.
This officially ends the center's closure that's been in place since the federal government shutdown began Oct. 1.
"Liberal leave will be in effect for employees on Thursday and Friday," spokesman Dom Amatore said in a statement. "Employees should be especially diligent about observing safety precautions as they return to work."
Amatore said liberal leave means employees can take leave without requesting it in advance by notifying their supervisors. The advisory to be careful simply reflects that the center's labs and shops have been closed for 16 days, Amatore said.
NASA was one of the government agencies hardest hit by the shutdown. An estimated 95 percent of its workforce was sent home. In Huntsville, controllers remained on the job to assist astronauts aboard the International Space Station in science experiments.
Still unclear is how many of Marshall's estimated 2,500 civilian contract employees will be back on the job Thursday. But those workers support their NASA counterparts, so they will all be back soon.