NASA Suspends Work on Artemis Manned Mission Moon Rocket Due to Coronavirus

Pablo Tucker
March 20, 2020

The Crew Dragon will launch on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The US Apollo program, NASA's forerunner to the current lunar effort, accomplished the world's first six and only manned missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972.

NASA announced tonight the closure of two company facilities - one in MS, where a blue-collar worker was diagnosed. It will have an impact on our missions - But employee health above all else.

"NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than mid-to-late May for launch", the USA space agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The space agency is shutting down its Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the Space Launch System rocket is being built, and the nearby Stennis Space Center, administrator Jim Bridenstine said late Thursday.

NASA has scheduled the launch of the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission to take place on May 15 at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

'The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume. The only workers allowed onsite will be those dealing with security and critical infrastructure. NASA has not set an exact date or time.

While Bridenstine noted there would be "impacts to NASA missions" due to the closures, including to work on the Orion spacecraft - created to bring American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 - he said the health of personnel remained a "top priority".

The USA now has 13,572 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 183 deaths from the deadly respiratory virus.

Bridenstine continued saying that mandatory telework is now ongoing for NASA personnel at both centers until further notice.

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.

The tech entrepreneur's company will launch a Falcon 9 rocket to transport the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in a first for the space agency as it looks to cut costs.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission. The space office as of now finds a way to defend space explorers' wellbeing before they dispatch, including a fourteen-day isolate and review of provisions for organisms.

The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons. Now, even that timeframe may be too optimistic if the work at both Michoud and Stennis facilities is halted for a temporary period.

The upcoming launch is part of SpaceX's commercial partnership with NASA.

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