COVID-19 Stories April 5

Space Explored reported on March 24 that COVID-19 has forced NASA to close half of its facilities so far. The space agency has a four stage response framework that applies to each facility.

This method is used to determine which facilities are safe to operate in limited capacity and which must close as part of the effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, became the tenth NASA facility to close on March 29.

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Michael Hardy recently reported for Wired that Maxar satellite imagery shot from low Earth orbit is being used to compare life on Earth before and during the current health pandemic.

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COVID-19 Stories April 2

Leadership at Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company appears to be struggling with how to navigate major mission milestones in the age of the coronavirus.

Loren Grush published new reporting for The Verge that illustrates conflict between employees and management, citing four anonymous employee sources including audio recorded from a recent meeting.

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COVID-19 Stories April 1

A majority of NASA facilities may be closed and on telework status, but that’s not stopping America’s space agency from coming together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

NASA is sourcing innovative ideas on how to respond to the spread of COVID-19.

On April 1, NASA launched an agency-wide call for ideas on its internal crowdsourcing platform NASA @ WORK. The internal website fosters collaboration and provides NASA employees with an inventive way to share knowledge and solve challenges.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says the effort is in response to employees already wanting to help.

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COVID-19 Stories March 25

SpaceX still plans to send NASA astronauts to space as soon as May despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down large parts of the economy. The milestone crewed test flight, SpaceX Demo-2, will mark the first time astronauts have been sent to space from American soil since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011.

Elon Musk’s space exploration company is still affected by COVID-19, however, including one mission being postponed due to the current travel ban in place.

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COVID-19 Stories March 24

It’s not yet clear how long it will be until the coronavirus pandemic is contained in the United States and around the world.

The spread of COVID-19 has not yet reached its apex in the U.S., so we cannot know the full effect that the virus will have on America’s space agency or the greater space economy.

We do know how NASA and partner companies are being affected by the health pandemic so far, however, including spaceflight plans and facilities going offline.

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COVID-19 Stories March 17

NASA employees and contractors will now be required to work remotely, Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Tuesday night. The requirement is in effect across every NASA facility.

The space agency stress tested its telework capabilities earlier this month before the coronavirus pandemic began to worsen across the United States. NASA Ames Research Center in California was forced to mandate remote work a week later after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Here’s the latest statement from NASA Administrator Bridenstine:

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COVID-19 Stories March 9

Last week NASA conducted a nationwide voluntary telework test run to discover technological and connectivity issues before a theoretical mandate is required.

Over the weekend, a NASA employee at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley tested positive the coronavirus. As a precaution, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has placed the facility on “mandatory telework status with restricted access to the center until further notice.”

Here’s the administrator’s full statement:

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COVID-19 Stories March 4

NASA isn’t requiring employees work remotely over coronavirus COVID-19 concerns yet, but the administration is conducting a test this week to determine how such an event would work if the federal government mandated such a thing.

Jacqueline Feldscher, reporting for POLITICO:

All NASA employees and a number of Air Force personnel have been asked to work from home on Friday amid federal preparations for a potential coronavirus outbreak, according to a NASA spokesperson and an Air Force memo obtained by POLITICO.

The day will allow employees to test remote work technologies in case federal employees are forced to work from home for an extended period of time due to the virus.

NASA spokesperson Bettina Inclán provided this statement on the upcoming test:

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COVID-19 Stories February 24

Even the International Space Station can’t escape the effects of the coronavirus on Earth.

According to Russian news agency RIA, astronauts on Earth may be faced with an extra week of quarantine before leaving the planet for the ISS.

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