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NASA instructs its employees to work remotely due to the Coronavirus pandemic

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 25 mar. 2020 5:05 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 8 sept. 2020 6:01 ]
The US space agency instructed its employees to use the available technology to work from home to protect their health and enhance the safety of its huge workforce, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The US space agency instructed most of its employees to work remotely for their safety due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

NASA facilities, like this one at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, will operate with less personnel for the time that the Coronavirus pandemic persists.

(Source: NASA)
The space agency’s objective was to identify and separate the tasks that could be performed remotely from home, the essential work for missions that have to be performed in person at specific sites and activities in person at specific sites that will be suspended.
 
“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority”, said NASA’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine.

“Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities,” he added.

NASA defined as “essential work” those that must be performed to keep running critical operations, to guarantee the schedule of mission launches where the time factor is decisive, or works to protect lives and critical infrastructure. That includes the work to support the United States’ national security and roles that are essential to missions that are a contribution to the country.
 
Projects will continue

NASA’s Mars mission 2020, that includes the Perseverance rover and the Mars helicopter, is still a high priority and its launch and other preparations for the mission are still scheduled.

Much of the work is being performed by employees and contractors that work remotely in the whole agency.

The Space Telescope James Webb’s team, in California, is suspending integration and tests’ operations, but it could change as the situation evolves during the weekend and next week. 

Artemis program

NASA’s Artemis program work will continue with a limited production of equipment and software for the Space Launch System’s rocket, but the manufacturing and testing of that equipment and the Orion capsule are temporarily suspended.

The Human Landing System’s program is already operating as a virtual team to perform engineering analyses and other jobs, and the impact of the remote work has been minimal. 

The AMES Research Center keeps online the agency’s supercomputation resources, along with NASA’s Information Technologies’ Security Operations Center and the spacecraft’s flight operations.

All the work related to support the operations at the International Space Station continues. The flight controllers are working at the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas.

Astronauts in quarantine

The astronauts’ training continues along with the preparations for the April 9 launch of astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts. 

NASA and its international and commercial partners are taking measures to prevent the crew from taking diseases like the flu or influenza to the International Space Station.

As is usual in all manned launches, the crews have to remain in quarantine for two weeks before takeoff. That process guarantees that they are not sick or incubating a disease when they arrive at the space station.
 
Mandatory remote work

NASA is also maintaining essential mission operations for all space vehicles and probes, as the Hubble Space Telescope and the space communications network, besides the satellite missions that support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Defense, including those that convey critical data on weather and geosatellital positioning.
 
Most of the agency remains under the Stage 3 status, with mandatory remote work for all employees, with limited exceptions for hands-on work. 

The AMES, Michoud and Stennis Centers are in Stage 4, with on-site personnel for the protection of the physical integrity and critical infrastructure.

NASA is monitoring the developments regarding COVID-19 in the United States and is following the guidelines of the White House’s Task Force for Coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's and local and state officials’ to keep its thousands of operatives’ community safe.

(Source: NASA)
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