NASA has suspended research and development of sLS and Orion spacecraft after the agency reported a surge in new coronavirus cases around its centers,media reported. As NASA is launching two key facilities for the fourth phase of its NASA Response Framework, the agency decided to press the pause button for the SLS and Orion projects.
It is understood that the framework is designed for NASA and its facilities to respond to the impact of the new coronavirus outbreak on ongoing and planned missions. Phase 4 requires staff to be telecommuting, in addition to what is considered “necessary”, and to close all centres and suspend all international travel.
By the end of the day, NASA’s two major facilities, the Michud Eyre And the Stannis Space Center, had risen to phase four.
NASA Director Jim Bridenstine confirmed: “The change at the Stannis Center is due to the increasing number of new crown cases in the communities surrounding the center, the increase in the number of self-isolated cases among our staff, and the increase in confirmed cases in the Stannis team. Although There have been no confirmed cases in Michud, the centre is entering phase IV due to the increasing number of cases of new coronavirus infection in the region, according to local and federal guidelines. “
The cautious upgrade means it will affect two of NASA’s largest projects to date, both of which are central to missions to Mars and beyond. The SLS is a super-thrust-consuming launch vehicle that, once completed, will be NASA’s most powerful rocket ever built. Initially it will be used to send astronauts back to the moon, after which it will launch a deep space mission.
Meanwhile, the Orion spacecraft is an astronaut’s space exploration tool. It will be paired with SLS, the same way, sending astronauts to the moon, then Mars, then further afield.
Bridenstine acknowledged that closing the two sites would have an impact on NASA’s mission, but said it was vital to ensure the health and safety of staff.