The pandemic of the new corona virus has had a major impact on NASA’s space program. As the COVID-19 health crisis continues, many teams have been suspended. Last week, for example, NASA confirmed that the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft project had been put on hold. “While technology can help us do a lot of work remotely, there are still a lot of things that have to be done manually,” said Jim Bridensteine, NASA’s director.
During the outbreak, NASA will evaluate its multi-phase development plan to determine which priorities. The most important and critical task at the moment is to ensure that life-safety and critical infrastructure work is carried out and that time-sensitive launch missions are not dragged into dangerous situations.
The 2020 Mars mission is a project nasa is still working on, and the agency plans to do so sometime in the next decade. Both the Perseverance rover and the helicopter project have a high priority, but much of the work has now moved to remote mode.
Manufacturing testing work between SLS and Orion is now in a stalled state, but the Artemis project is not affected. Its hardware and software testing will be dragged from the Glenn Research Center to the Kennedy Space Center and joined Artemis II Orion.
On the isolated International Space Station, all the work is still being done in an orderly manner. Flight controllers are working in mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and NASA has taken steps since early March to reduce the risk of team exposure.
Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, is working on the development of the X-59 supersonic aircraft. NASA hopes to deliver it in the second half of 2021 and begin flight testing in 2022.
Unfortunately, the James Webb Space Telescope team has been put off, and even if the situation in California is not so panicky, NASA has put the safety of its employees first and has developed its current response policy.
In summary, most of NASA’s facilities today have a Level 3 response, meaning that all employees must be telecommuting unless they are a last resort. Ames, Michoud, and Stennis, which are in a level 4 response, are the exception.