The first positive case of coronavirus at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida was confirmed today (March 23).
As reported by Emre Kelly for Florida Today, Tracy Young, a NASA spokesperson at KSC, the agency notified employees on Sunday (March 22) that a KSC employee tested positive for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19.
However, Young noted that the employee who has tested positive likely didn’t contract the illness until they had already begun telecommuting and working from home. “This employee was last at the center more than 10 days ago,” Young told Florida Today. “Based on the circumstances and elapsed time since the employee was on site, we believe it was acquired after they had started teleworking and there is no additional risk at the center from this person.”
Young added that the “protection and care of the Kennedy workforce, their families and the entire Kennedy community remains our top priority during this uncertain time.”
This news follows NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s announcement last week that mandated that all agency employees, with the exception of critical mission personnel, work remotely from home. This escalated NASA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic to Stage 3 as part of the agency’s “Response Framework.”
Bridenstine’s announcement came after NASA employees tested positive for COVID-19 at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. NASA has since elevated three of its centers — the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Ames — to Stage 4, citing increasing coronavirus concerns.
So far, the growing spread of the disease has resulted in a number of changes at NASA. In addition to the change in working conditions for NASA employees, work is currently on hold for the James Webb Space Telescope, a number of other science-focused missions have been put on hold and timelines for spacecraft development is also up in the air.
Currently, as of March 23, there are over 33,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. alone and 400 reported deaths, according to the CDC.
Stay up-to-date with live updates surrounding the coronavirus outbreak here.
NASA taps SpaceX for future cargo deliveries to the lunar Gateway – SlashGear
In an announcement on Friday, NASA revealed the first private American space company to receive a Gateway Logistics Services contract under the Artemis program: SpaceX. Under this new deal, SpaceX will eventually deliver various experiments, supplies, and other cargo to the planned lunar Gateway. The space agency has described this as a ‘significant step forward’ in its Artemis program, which is aiming for a manned return to the Moon by 2024.
Under a Gateway Logistics Services contract, NASA will be able to order missions for as long as 12 years, it explained on Friday. The space agency is working on making the lunar Gateway outpost a reality — it will be a small spaceship that remains in lunar orbit, serving as a living space for astronauts, a space lab for scientific work, and more.
As with the International Space Station today, the future Gateway will require regular shipments of cargo and other goods. SpaceX has worked extensively with NASA over the years to launch cargo deliveries, among other things, and it makes sense that the space agency would continue its work with the private space company.
In a statement, NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Deep Space Logistics manager Mark Wiese said:
This is an exciting new chapter for human exploration. We are bringing the innovative thinking of commercial industry into our supply chain and helping ensure we’re able to support crews preparing for lunar surface expeditions by delivering the supplies they need ahead of time.
At this point in time, NASA says that it is planning supply missions to the Gateway that will involve a cargo spacecraft spending between six and 12 months at the outpost each time. SpaceX plays an important role in NASA’s Artemis program and future Mars ambitions, but it isn’t the only private American space company working with the space agency. Among others, Boeing also has considerable involvement with the Artemis program.
Astronaut tips to survive lockdown: Talk, teamwork, treats – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post
Stick to a daily routine, stay connected with family and treat yourself occasionally – those are some of the tips German astronauts gave for surviving lockdown during the coronavirus crisis, which they said was much like their time in space.
Thomas Reiter, 61, who was the first German astronaut to perform a spacewalk, recalled during a Skype conversation with other astronauts on Thursday how he had a tight daily routine in space.
“I think it’s important to follow a conscious routine in such a situation … keeping that routine all week,” said Reiter, now retired.
But weekend treats were important to look forward to.
“During the week we picked out the things from the food container that each person liked the most for a Friday or Saturday evening and then had a bit better food,” he said.
Reiter recalled using Skype to connect with his family from the International Space Station. Sitting in front of a bookshelf, he recommended using lockdown to catch up on reading.
“You have to be able to retreat,” he said, but added that in confinement with others, people must put the group first. “You work together as a crew, you have to think of the others.”
Matthias Maurer, 50, the newest addition to the European Space Agency’s astronaut corps, said it was important to address any niggles before they blow up into arguments.
“Everyone of us has a quirk which we are comfortable with but which can annoy others,” he said, recalling how his taste for bananas annoyed a colleague who couldn’t stand their smell.
“If he hadn’t said that so politely and clearly, I would have continually annoyed him,” said Maurer.
Alexander Gerst, 43, who commanded the International Space Station, addressed the anxiety people may feel during the coronavirus epidemic.
Before a mission, astronauts think about the worst that could happen and then train how to respond.
“Then you have the feeling not that you are losing control, but that you have some control over the situation,” he said.
“Now the situation is similar. We have a very effective means of limiting this illness – that is that we stay at home.”
Reiter urged people to act likes astronauts going into quarantine before a mission – a protocol to prevent illness in space.
“Some people take the attitude ‘I’m young, I’m not at danger, I have no symptoms, so I don’t need to pay attention’,” he said. “It is up everyone to behave appropriately now, just like for us in quarantine.”
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Uranus has started leaking gas, NASA scientists confirm – Happy Mag
As if 2020 couldn’t get any more cursed, NASA scientists looking back through decades-old data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft have discovered a mysterious gas escaping from Uranus.
The data showed some mysterious force sucking the atmosphere straight out of the planet and into space.
Highly detailed and scientific NASA research can confirm that something massive is coming out of Uranus.
Buried data reveals that when the spacecraft flew past the gas giant in 1986, it passed through something called a plasmoid that escaped and stole a big old cloud of the planet’s atmosphere along with it.
NASA have learnt from Voyager 2’s gassy expedition that the plasmoid itself was about 127,000 miles long and twice as wide. The data, first published in August in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, will be able to give NASA a much more detailed understanding of Uranus’ atmospheric composition, however won’t be able to tell them everything.
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