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Earlier today a grotesque incident occurred. My attempt to navigate to SOHO was redirected instead to this notice which wrote to say

Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.

For information about available government services, visit USA.gov.


Este sitio web no se está disponible durante el cierre del Gobierno. Lamentamos profundamente las molestias que esto pueda causar.

Visite GobiernoUSA.gov para informarse sobre los servicios gubernamentales disponibles durante el cierre del Gobierno.

This is also mentioned elsewhere on SEx.SE in - How did the US government shutdown of 2013 affect NASA operations?

An article on this site writes to say

While 97 percent of NASA will be furloughed during a shutdown, the exception to the rule will be astronauts in space, who keep working, shutdown or no shutdown. Mission Control, which supports them, will also be working.

  • With the bulk of the US Government in shutdown, do Mission Control & Astronauts qualify to be calculated for overtime?
  • Further, regardless of the present shut-down, do astronauts & staff at any launch-pad (not restricted to NASA, or USA personnel) qualify for hazardous duty calculation?
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  • $\begingroup$ Why would the 3 % of people working their normal hours qualify for overtime pay ? (Well, why more than usually ?) Regarding the second question, I do not really see either why there would be hazardous duty bonus. By hazardous duty, do you mean dangerous work? $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 26 '13 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @NicolasBarbulesco I believe Everyone is referring to the fact that astronauts in space are supported by a minimal staff during a shutdown, so there is an increase in risk. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Dec 10 '13 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ I've done some more searching and I can't seem to find any more detail on this. It seems that it is very seldom that astronauts ever get hazardous duty pay. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Dec 11 '13 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage — According to my info, the staff supporting missions in space is not / was not reduced by the shutdown. The contrary would be irresponsible (but, with USA politics, who knows ?). $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Barbulesco Dec 12 '13 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @NicolasBarbulesco This article indicates that a skeleton crew monitored the ISS, but it is unclear if the use of "skeleton crew" is referring to the the whole JSC facility being reduced to just the folks supporting the ISS or if it means that the folks who support the ISS got reduced. It is probably the former, not the latter, as you said. But I can see how this might bring @ Everyone to believe there was increased risk. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Dec 12 '13 at 14:43
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I wouldn't know for the first part of your question, but I did research a bit the second half. Still limiting it to US astronauts alone, I would say that their qualification for hazard pay depends on who they work for, their contract, and also what they're currently doing.

It will however be really hard to give fair estimate on what's common practice, how often and for how much time they qualify for hazard pay. E.g. US military pilots / astronauts don't receive Danger Pay unless they work at posts where they're in imminent danger or under threat of physical harm due to civil insurrection, terrorism, or war conditions. They would however qualify for Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay while in flight, for which I doubt the International Space Station counts, its status would likely be defined as a base, but actual flight to it and back to Earth might.

For non-military astronauts though, this would be nigh impossible to say, with so many possible employers, and even then, different responsibilities would come with different arrangements. You can even hire astronauts nowadays, for example via Astronauts 4 Hire (A4H) program that recruits and trains qualified scientists and engineers for the rigors of spaceflight. And there are other similar organisations, and I probably need not mention all the payload specialist astronauts, but their hazard pay would likely depend on who would they be hired by, what benefits would they sign for (on an individual basis), and under which organisation would their employment, responsibilities, schedule, etc. be managed.

In days when even US intelligence community outsources en mass to government contractors, such hires will likely be ever more frequent also in the future. And since these are individual contracts with private enterprises, involved companies aren't obliged to disclose any such information to the public (they don't fall under the Freedom of Information Act like the federal government does), so we can only guess and the amount they're paid for hazardous duty would stay between them, their employer, and the taxman.

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    $\begingroup$ This is, IMO, the best answer that we're going to get to this question. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Dec 16 '13 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage - To be fair, I don't even try to address the first part of the question in my answer. I didn't even follow developments much during the government shutdown, I was way too angry about it and worried about Juno, MAVEN , LADEE,... missions. And none of the US government employees involved in space exploration that I follow on Twitter (probably a few hundred of them) were asking about their pay, but nearly all wondered when can they come back to work and shared concerns for the status of ongoing missions. Needless to say, they tweeted 3x as much with 1/3 of available info. ;) $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Dec 16 '13 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand this "Astronauts 4 Hire" stuff. Who hires whom to do what? And you seem to imply that there would be "private astronauts". No astronaut was sent in space being employed by a private company, as far as I know. Has this ever happened? $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Barbulesco Aug 16 '15 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ @NicolasBarbulesco That would be a good new question, but you're wrong that there were no astronauts sent in space by private companies, Space Shuttle flew many so-called Payload Specialists that were representing private entities, and there were even some tourists in space. As for A4H, well take for example CASIS. Private entities are not only interested in flying their own personnel, but are even actively encouraged to do so. And, technically, all ISS astronauts are also facilitating private companies' experiments on the station all the time. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Aug 16 '15 at 15:32
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Uh... It seems that if they are military astronauts (We still have those?), then they are being paid on the basis that they are part of the military.

The IRS code seems to imply that it is, however, they are again, speaking strictly about military astronauts, there is not a single mention of civilian astronauts.

I don't honestly know about Civilian astronauts, but they are at least qualified to be called civilian pilots, and there were a lot of those who qualified for hazardous duty pay, so they probably did as well.

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