NASA is closing the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the nearby Stennis Space Center in Mississippi because of the “rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community,” administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday evening. As a result, work on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsules, both critical elements in NASA’s Artemis moon program, will be suspended.
“The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume,” Bridenstine said in a blog post. “Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure.”
“We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions,” he added, “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.”