The US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed in a Wednesday media advisory that its joint project with SpaceX would see two astronauts flown to the International Space Station (ISS) "no earlier than mid-to-late May". NASA recently issued a mandate to all of its staff to work from home if possible, and at least two NASA employees have tested positive for the new coronavirus in recent weeks.
According to Jim Bridenstine, there is one confirmed case of Coronavirus infection at the Stennis Space Center and many are in self-isolation, while there have been cases in the locality of Michoud Assembly Facility too.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Crew Dragon astronaut capsule, in a test lift-off in January at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
The launch is considered the final test of SpaceX's crewed system, including docking, splashdown and recovery, before SpaceX is certified to conduct regular flights to the space station.More news: Italy Nears Gruesome Milestone: More COVID-19 Deaths Than China
The cores of the rocket are being made in Michoud by a team of NASA personnel, as well as Boeing employees, which is the rocket's main contractor, while the first completed core is now at Stennis where it will undergo a ground test later this year. Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure. NASA has not set an exact date or time.
"We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks, we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce", he said.
The USA now has 13,572 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 183 deaths from the deadly respiratory virus.
As a result, work on developing the Orion spacecraft - created to bring American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 - will also be suspended causing a delay to NASA's Artemis moon program.More news: Prince Harry Makes 'Incredibly Difficult' Decision to Cancel 2020 Invictus Games
A test flight without any astronauts aboard, may also be delayed until after 2021. Kennedy is where the Perseverance rover - scheduled to launch for Mars in July or August - is being built.
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.
NASA's Artemis program aims to bring the first woman and the next man to the moon.
NASA has made a decision to shut down the production of its deep-space rocket, and a crew capsule as two of centers start with the Stage 4 of the agency's "Response Framework" amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is the last stage and the strictest.More news: New coronavirus can survive on some surfaces for days
It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission.