Coronavirus delays work on NASA's moon rocket and capsule

NASA's Mobile Launcher rolls toward Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center Fla. in June. File

The historic flight will launch humans to space from USA soil for the first time since the final space shuttle mission on July 8th, 2011.

The Stennis Space Centre in MS is testing the first booster for the massive rocket launch system.

"Nasa and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than mid-to late May for launch", Nasa said in a statement on Wednesday.

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 flight test will send two astronauts to the International Space Station in May, the first time American astronauts aboard an American rocket and spacecraft have visited the station since the final space shuttle mission on July 8, 2011.

The upcoming launch is part of SpaceX's commercial partnership with NASA. At present, NASA has placed all of its facilities on a "Stage 3" advisory level, which dictates that all employees, except those who need to be physically present for mission-related activity, are expected to work remotely.

The Space Launch System is a powerful deep space rocket to transport astronauts to the Moon and beyond while Orion is the crew module.

Transportation of USA space travelers to and from the ISS is at present made conceivable through agreements to purchase situates on Soyuz rockets propelled by Russia's Roscosmos. The Dragon will be carrying the astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. All accreditation requests should be submitted through NASA's media website.

Although it seems NASA is ready to proceed with the launch of the mission in May, the agency noted that the schedule of the event could still change depending on the country's current situation.

This artist illustration shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docking to the International Space Station.

According to a report by The Verge, NASA has heightened the restrictions at the Michoud Assembly Facility located in Louisiana as well as at the Stennis Space Center in MS as a response to the alarming rate of COVID-19 cases in the United States. "The agency will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency's chief health and medical officer and communicate any updates that may impact mission planning or media access, as they become available". NASA recently issued a mandate to all of its staff to work from home if possible, and at least two NASA employees have tested positive for the new coronavirus in recent weeks.



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