A majority of NASA facilities may be closed and on telework status, but that’s not stopping America’s space agency from coming together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
NASA is sourcing innovative ideas on how to respond to the spread of COVID-19.
On April 1, NASA launched an agency-wide call for ideas on its internal crowdsourcing platform NASA @ WORK. The internal website fosters collaboration and provides NASA employees with an inventive way to share knowledge and solve challenges.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says the effort is in response to employees already wanting to help.
SpaceX still plans to send NASA astronauts to space as soon as May despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down large parts of the economy. The milestone crewed test flight, SpaceX Demo-2, will mark the first time astronauts have been sent to space from American soil since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011.
Elon Musk’s space exploration company is still affected by COVID-19, however, including one mission being postponed due to the current travel ban in place.
Last week NASA conducted a nationwide voluntary telework test run to discover technological and connectivity issues before a theoretical mandate is required.
Over the weekend, a NASA employee at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley tested positive the coronavirus. As a precaution, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has placed the facility on “mandatory telework status with restricted access to the center until further notice.”
NASA isn’t requiring employees work remotely over coronavirus COVID-19 concerns yet, but the administration is conducting a test this week to determine how such an event would work if the federal government mandated such a thing.
All NASA employees and a number of Air Force personnel have been asked to work from home on Friday amid federal preparations for a potential coronavirus outbreak, according to a NASA spokesperson and an Air Force memo obtained by POLITICO.
The day will allow employees to test remote work technologies in case federal employees are forced to work from home for an extended period of time due to the virus.
NASA spokesperson Bettina Inclán provided this statement on the upcoming test: