NASA has not bogged down from the scare of the virus and has kept all its missions going including its upcoming mission to send astronauts to the international space station.
The novel Coronavirus has reached every corner of the planet with world leaders calling summits off and sports bodies rueing the cancellation of mega events. However, American space agency NASA has not bogged down from the scare of the virus and has kept all its missions going including its upcoming mission to send astronauts to the international space station.
“We do not foresee any changes to our plans with procedures being adopted by all the teams to ensure that astronauts do not bring any illness with them into space,” a NASA spokesperson said. The agency has also activated its internal response framework apportioning the number of employees that can work from home and the level of access employees have to crucial NASA facilities. Two of its centres-Ames Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center- have been put on level 3 indicating the vulnerability of the centres to the Coronavirus. Telework has been made mandatory with employees using their phones to work from home. Only the essential team members of the space mission have been permitted to visit the facilities. The emergency measures had to be resorted to after one positive Coronavirus cases were reported at both these centres.
In a similar vein, the Johnson Hopkins Centre has been put under level 2 conditions where telework is “strongly encouraged”, though it has not been made compulsory. The immediate challenge before the agency is its mission to send astronauts to the international space centre which is slated to be launched on April 9 from Kazakhstan. With Kazakhstan sealing its borders in view of the pandemic, the NASA is mulling the changes required to facilitate the travel of the astronauts along with their team members.
Possibility of an astronaut transporting the virus to the International Space Centre has made NASA take additional measures. Astronauts have been asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days even when there are no visible symptoms of the virus. However, the evolving situation might force the space agency to bring a halt to its lined up missions. European spaceport in French Guinea and South America have already suspended all its immediate missions and NASA may go the similar road in case the situation worsens.