Friday, NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are closing as part of a stage four response. According to a NASA statement, once an orderly shut-down puts all hardware in a safe condition, everyone will leave except workers needed to "protect life and critical infrastructure." This means NASA is suspending production and testing of the Space Launch System and Orion hardware until work can resume.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says the change at Stennis is due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of workers self-isolating, and one confirmed case among the Stennis team.
"NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework, effective Friday, March 20. The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team. While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines. Mandatory telework is in effect for NASA personnel at both facilities until further notice. Additionally, all travel is suspended. These measures are being taken to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities. Access to Stennis and Michoud will be limited to personnel required to maintain the safety and security of the center, as approved by agency leadership and the resident agencies. All previously approved exceptions for onsite work are rescinded and new approvals will be required in order to gain access to the center. NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware. The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume. 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, 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. I ask all members of the NASA workforce to stay in close contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates. Also, in these difficult times, do not hesitate to reach out to the NASA Employee Assistance Program, if needed. I will continue to say, so none of us forget – there is no team better prepared for doing hard things. Take care of yourself, your family, and your NASA team."NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
While there aren't any cases at Michoud, Bridenstine says there are a rising number of confirmed cases in the area, and the decision to move to stage four is in accordance with local and federal guidelines.
We want to make clear, Marshall Space Flight Center is still under a stage three response, and most employees are working from home. Stage four is only for the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.