What Hurts the Most
I had a good chat with one of my civil service customers yesterday about this situation. Neither of us like it. We'd both rather continue with The Mission. And that's one thing that gets left out of a lot of "calculations" about workforce and budgets: the people who come to NASA to work are there because they believe in human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. We're not there to kill or fill time (okay, there might be some like that, but there aren't many, and there are certainly easier places/jobs to do that, yes?).
I got a master's degree in technical communication so I could work in the space business. Specifically, I wanted to support human space exploration. The Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, Mars Rovers, and the rest are all very cool, and it'd be fun to work on those, too, if it comes to that. But the reason I came to Huntsville, Alabama, was to work on a mission to send human beings where they'd never been before. The whole Star Trek thing.
That stuff matters, and it hurts to see it go away because a lot of us believed we were doing good work. I have not questioned going into work a single day at NASA. I know why I'm there, and I believe in the rightness of the task, even if my role is only communicating about it, not building the stuff. I salute those who do, and the ones brave enough to get up there and fly the hardware and put on hard suits to walk on other worlds. Regardless of the future direction of the agency, we will continue to need those skills and those people. The road to space will still go through Huntsville.