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The effect of coronavirus on a space mission

The COVID-19 the disease caused by the new coronavirus continues, to spread like a pandemic around the world, we see more and more ripple effects in the space sector. For instance, very recently NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine ordered a mandate that virtually all NASA employees work from home. This a stage 3 response to the pandemic so there is still select mission personnel who will be allowed on-site at NASA to work non-remotely.

If this does progress to stage 4 that will mean that all fewer employees will be working remotely and telecommuting. But in the meantime, there will still be select mission personnel from NASA on site. Now another effect that has that we’ve seen take place at NASA has been on the missions themselves now. As everything shifts with how people are working and how priorities are shifting with regard to health and safety a number of mission science missions already get postponed.

This includes a number of airborne science missions that so far are most likely to be postponed to later this year. In addition to NASA making changes to the everyday working structure and to mission timelines, we see a number of ripple effects in the private space sector. For instance, Virgin Galactic has seen a lot of changes in their stock as many companies have which response to the pandemic.

Additionally, companies like Blue Origin and like Boeing have issued orders and different regulations to their employees to work from home and limit travel to ensure safety. The SpaceX has not done this yet however, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has stated that if employees are feeling ill it’s best that they stay home. It’s tough to say exactly how this will continue to play out so we will just have to watch it and see how it goes.

Now, speaking of watching it and seeing how it goes those mission timelines. Because people will not be able to work on-site for the large part, a lot of spacecraft and building might also shift with regards to when things will be finished and when things will be launching. But again only time will tell so we’ll have to wait and see. The one other major ripple effect of the coronavirus in the space sector has been the cancellation and change of conferences and of large space gatherings.

For instance conferences like Space Symposium or Satellite 2020 have been postponed to a later date. Whereas the Northeast astronomy forum has actually gone totally virtual. They’re going to be planning to put their lectures and their talks and information online instead of having people gather in person for the yearly event.

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