NASA has revealed that it has suspended work on building the Space Launch System rocket due to the risking number of coronavirus cases in the community
NASA’s plans to return to the moon in 2024 could be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The space agency has revealed that it has suspended work on building the Space Launch System rocket due to the risking number of coronavirus cases in the community.
The rocket was being built at NASA ’s Stennis Space Centre in New Orleans.
Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, explained: “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.
“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.”
The Space Launch System will be NASA’s most powerful rocket, and is designed to transport astronauts to the moon in 2024, and on to Mars in in the 2030s.
However, Mr Bridenstine added that the virus outbreak could scupper these plans.
He added: “We realise there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyse the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce.”
Last week, an employee at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley tested positive for the diease, prompting the agency to issue mandatory work-from-home orders for the centre.
Since then, an employee at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has also tested positive.