NASA’s Future Missions Significantly Affected By The Recent Coronavirus Pandemic
The US has more than 46.000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. One of them is an employee form NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It seems that there is no direct consequence for NASA’s plans to deal with the pandemic. The employee was on mandatory telework for ten days before the positive diagnosis on March 22.
NASA spokesman Allard Beutel declared that NASA doesn’t consider this a threat for the activity at the Kennedy Space Center, they believe that the virus was contracted in the ten days since the employee was teleworking.
The primary launch center for NASA’s human spaceflight for the past 50 years is at Stage 3 with mandatory teleworking. This means that the center wasn’t yet totally closed, and the essential personnel can still enter and work form headquarters.
The coronavirus pandemic has strongly affected NASA’s plans
Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center in New Orleans and Mississippi were both closed, and telework became mandatory for all employees when NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on March 19 that the entire agency is going to Stage 4.
“Much of the work is being done by employees and contractors who work remotely across the agency. Assessments by agency leadership are underway for anyone required to work in areas under restriction, such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,” stated NASA.
Artemis, NASA’s human-crewed mission on the Moon, has been put aside. This should give time to Trump administration to decide where it stands when it comes to sending the first couple of a man and a woman on the Moon. So far, the presidential attitude towards Artemis extremely oscillating.
The launch of James Webb Space Telescope, which should replace the Hubble Space Telescope, was postponed. It should have been launched in March 2021. The next mission to Mars, in collaboration with Russian space agency Roscosmos, was also pushed to 2022 because of the pandemic. The only mission still standing is Perseverance rover, programmed to be launched to Mars this year, in July.
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