Safe Space

Johnson Space Center Taking Safety Precautions Amid Coronavirus

Even with many of its personnel teleworking, the hub of human space flight continues to forge ahead on major programs.

By Emma Schkloven March 24, 2020

Expedition 63 crew members Chris Cassidy of NASA (left) and Anatoly Ivanishin (center) and Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos (right) pose for pictures in front of a Soyuz trainer at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

Pretty much every one is working from home these days, even astronauts.

The majority of personnel at Johnson Space Center, as well as all of NASA’s centers, have transitioned to teleworking, though those deemed mission-essential, including the flight controllers supporting the International Space Station, are still allowed onsite access to its facilities. Other mission-essential projects include the upcoming the Commercial Crew flight test, scheduled for mid-May, and certain astronaut training activities, says Kelly Humphries, news chief for Johnson Space Center.

Work on the Artemis program also continues “with limited production of hardware and software for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket,” although SLS and Orion manufacturing and testing in Louisiana and Mississippi have been halted, according to a March 20 news release.

As of now, the April 9 launch of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts, who will spend six months aboard the International Space Station, is still progressing as planned, Humphries says. While there’s plenty of concern about the spread of coronavirus on planet Earth, NASA’s already ahead of the curve in making sure the coronavirus doesn’t leave the atmosphere. Its longstanding protocol requires all astronauts to undergo a two-week quarantine before going into orbit to ensure they are not sick or incubating any illnesses.

“We’re trying to do what everybody else is doing,” Humphries says, “and that is to maintain our vigilance.”

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