THIS WEEK @NASA: Impact of Coronavirus to NASA’s Missions, Launch Preparations for Orion

By  //  March 27, 2020

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Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: The impact of coronavirus to NASA’s missions, prelaunch training continues for the next space station crew, and launch preparations for Orion … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

As part of our continued response to the coronavirus pandemic, a mandatory telework policy for non-essential employees remains in effect to protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce.

In a virtual “Ask the Administrator” session, Administrator Jim Bridenstine and other senior officials responded to questions and concerns employees have about the coronavirus situation.

Jim Bridenstine / NASA Administrator:
“Your agency – NASA is involved in providing solution sets for the nation. And we will be more and more involved as days go on because we do have an extremely talented, very bright workforce and a lot of capabilities that can help.”

Steve Jurczyk/ NASA Associate Administrator:
“We really have tried to be proactive. Really look at conditions on the ground and make decisions based on – not only the current conditions – but like you said, where things are headed and be proactive and try to stay out ahead of this.”

WELCOME HOME: NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Ready for Final Artemis I Launch PreparationsRelated Story:
WELCOME HOME: NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Ready for Final Artemis I Launch Preparations

NASA leadership is assessing what can be done remotely, work that will be paused, and mission-essential activities that must continue.

Some of the mission-essential work identified includes preparing the Perseverance rover and helicopter for our Mars 2020 mission, limited work on the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System rocket for our Artemis Program, construction of our X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft, keeping the agency’s supercomputing and IT security resources online, and the continued support of all International Space Station operations.

Next Space Station Crew Departs For Kazakh Launch Site

The next crew headed to the International Space Station, including our Chris Cassidy, wrapped up activities in Star City Russia, then left for the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to continue training for its April 9 launch. While mindful of the coronavirus situation, the crew already follows a standardized routine that has always been in place to prevent illnesses from being brought to the space station.

Chris Cassidy / NASA Astronaut:
“We’re traveling with a very small team. All of us have been in quarantine together, everybody practicing the same health precautions, and we’ll do the exact same thing in Baikonur.”

Orion Spacecraft Ready for Final Artemis I Launch Preparations

The Orion spacecraft for Artemis I returned to our Kennedy Space Center in Florida after completing some rigorous environmental testing at our Plum Brook Station in Ohio.

The spacecraft will now undergo final preparations for its launch on Artemis I. The uncrewed test flight is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon that will ultimately lead to human exploration of Mars.

Curiosity Mars Rover Takes a New Selfie Before Record Climb

Our Curiosity Mars rover snapped this selfie recently, just before setting a record for the steepest terrain it has ever climbed. The climb up the “Greenheugh Pediment,” a broad sheet of rock that sits atop a hill, tilted the rover 31 degrees – the most it has ever tilted on Mars. The 360-degree selfie was stitched together from 86 images.

NASA’s Spinoff Publication

In case you missed it, the newest edition of NASA’s Spinoff publication is available. It features dozens of commercial technologies developed or improved by the agency’s space program that now benefit people everywhere. Print and digital versions of the latest issue of Spinoff are available at: spinoff.nasa.gov

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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