NASA Administrator Statement Responding to Coronavirus Pandemic with Facility Closings and Artemis Mission Impacts

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gives remarks on the agency’s Artemis program, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, announcing assembly completion in front of the 1st core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Like everyone else NASA is feeling the ever growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe as known cases and deaths climb precipitously as more cases of COVID19 are diagnosed among the NASA workforce.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine issued a new statement today, Thursday, March 19, that moves the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework, and virtually closes them on Friday, March 20 to all but emergency and safety personnel.

Two NASA centers at NASA Ames and NASA Marshall were already effectively closed earlier by elevation to Stage 4.

As a result NASA will halt work on production and testing of Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion deep space capsule hardware essential for the Artemis.

Work on preparing for the full duration ‘Green Run’ engine test of the SLS core stage will also cease and inevitably result in further delays to the Artemis 1 launch currently set for mid-2021 at the earliest.

Here is a link to the CDC website for further information about COVID-19:

https://www.cdc.gov/

Here is the full statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:

“NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework, effective Friday, March 20.

“The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team. While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines.

“Mandatory telework is in effect for NASA personnel at both facilities until further notice. Additionally, all travel is suspended. These measures are being taken to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities.

“Access to Stennis and Michoud will be limited to personnel required to maintain the safety and security of the center, as approved by agency leadership and the resident agencies. All previously approved exceptions for onsite work are rescinded and new approvals will be required in order to gain access to the center.

“NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware. The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume. Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure.

“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.

“I ask all members of the NASA workforce to stay in close contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates. Also, in these difficult times, do not hesitate to reach out to the NASA Employee Assistance Program, if needed.

“I will continue to say, so none of us forget – there is no team better prepared for doing hard things. Take care of yourself, your family, and your NASA team.”
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B-2 test stand where SLS core stage will be mounted at top right for ‘Green Run’ full duration RS-25 engine firing test in 2020 – at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Starlink, Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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