The partial shutdown of the US government has continued to affect airport services, which is now having a knock-on impact on conferences and events across the country.
The 233rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society was supposed to play host to a Boeing 747 outfitted with a massive telescope – the world’s largest airborne observatory. But the plane was not able to make the journey following travel disruptions.
In addition, hundreds of government scientists are also no longer allowed to attend the conference, as funding for government services is currently on hold.
The partial shutdown has been caused by President Trump’s insistence on $5bn to fund his border wall between the USA and Mexico, which is being contested by Congress. Until a budget agreement is reached, many government-funded staff and services are not being paid.
Some 700 federal employees who planned to attend the American Meteorological Society conference in Phoenix are staying home. Another 500 will miss the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ SciTech Forum and Exposition in San Diego.
The American Astronomical Society estimates that between 300 and 450 scientists will be absent this week from the 233rdMeeting.
Keith Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society, commented: “This will be difficult to recover from. We’ll be seeing the ripple effects from this for a long time.”