NASA’s mission to send American astronauts back to the Moon could be delayed following news the space agency is closing two of its centers to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The space agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana and Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi will be closed as of today (Friday 20th March).

“The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team,” NASA Administartor Jim Bridenstine said.

“While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines.”

“Mandatory telework is in effect for NASA personnel at both facilities until further notice. Additionally, all travel is suspended. These measures are being taken to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities.”

As a result of the closures, Bridenstine said NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware.

“We realise there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyse the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce,” he said.

NASA had set a goal to send the first woman and next man to the lunar south pole by 2024 – a mission cryogenics will play a major role in.

gasworld had the opportunity to visit the Cryogenics Test Laboratory at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently to find out more about the vital role that cryogenics plays in space exploration.

If you missed the article, read it here.