While schedule delays are nothing unique to the space business, firms in the projected $400 billion industry primarily prepare to function progressively via home-based work policies that might inhibit growth and development.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Blue Origin (NASA) are only some of the companies that have started restricting corporate travel, reprogramming events, and shifting specific staff to remote locations. Yet, whereas the concurrent pandemic threatens to worsen, the construction of sophisticated satellites, software production of high-powered machines, and work of scientific research teams remain uncertain.
The U.S. records at least 3,244 instances reported by the Johns Hopkins University, and on Sunday, the organizers received advice from the CBC to suspend functions with 50 participating individuals or more around the country. “We are experiencing massive uncertainty with the spread of this Pandemic,” said NASA’s Chairman, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, at a briefing on Thursday.
On Friday, a NASA employee tested for coronavirus in the Marshall center in Alabama, Huntsville. Marshall currently has the response status of ‘phase 3,’ indicating that it needs employee telework, and stating that “access to the center is limited to essential personnel.” “Further guidance should follow for those that do not have home facilities or who work in laboratories, or any other structures that need specific technological equipment, a fixed asset,” Jody Singer, Marshall’s director, uttered in a statement.
Furthermore, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, private visitor complex in Florida, announced that it would close until further notice from March.16, with no tourists being allowed into the facility.
The precautionary steps adopted to counter coronavirus affected two of the leading conferences in the space industry. Washington, D.C. Satellite 2020 Conference was cut short at the very beginning of the last week and had a smaller attendance than hoped for, with the 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs also postponed. On a routine basis, the two conferences host over ten thousand participants each.
SpaceX remains virtually unchanged in its activities to date. In a tweet last week, CEO Elon Musk wrote that “Coronavirus hysteria is dumb,” and allegedly told workers in a Friday email that “the chance of C19 death is* vastly* less than the risk of death while driving home in your car.” SpaceX personnel at the headquarters of the company in Hawthorne, California, continue to work in the meantime.
SpaceX declined to respond to the request by CNBC for clarification on the steps taken in response to the pandemic.
Blue Origin, a Jeff Bezos ‘ space firm, has its headquarters in Kent, Washington [a city just outside Seattle]. The firm also informed CNBC that it is yet to see the effect of coronavirus on its main activities, but also prepares for more radical business changes.
Research is underway with NASA and Boeing beginning their study in Louisiana on the Space Launch System (SLS) with some of the nation’s most sophisticated space programs. In a press release, NASA confirmed that SLS research is under the “critical missions,” category, while the organization continues to track the situation of coronavirus closely.