Work at the Michoud facility in New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi will be suspended, declared the US space agency, NASA. One of the 11.000 cases of confirmed coronavirus infection was an employee from the Stennis Space Center.
The two centers were working on the Space Launch System. The Michoud facility was encharged with the building and the Stennis Space Center with the tests. The delayed work during the virus pandemic could delay NASA’s mission to send astronauts to the Moon by the end of 2024.
“We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks, we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator.
Still, there are workers allowed onsite but only those dealing with security and critical infrastructure.
Work at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida wasn’t suspended. Perseverance rover is almost ready to head to Mars.
The shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak might affect future NASA’s missions
Perseverance was scheduled to launch this summer and bring back rocks and soil samples. The rover has seven scientific instruments to study the Martian surface, 23 cameras in total, and two microphones. It will be helped by the Mars Helicopter to scout for locations to study.
The Space Launch System is a super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development since its announcement in 2011. It is the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, including the planned crewed lunar flights of the Artemis program and a possible human mission to Mars.
The Artemis program is an ongoing crewed spaceflight program. Its goal is to take the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.
The human mission to Mars pan is landing on Mars for exploration at a minimum, with the possibility of sending settlers and terraforming the planet and/or exploring its moons Phobos and Deimos also considered.