The coronavirus pandemic won’t be stopping NASA anytime soon. As of March 25, NASA is still onboard for the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance, scheduled to be launched this summer amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
NASA officials are optimistic that the Perseverance rover will be ready to launch this summer during a three-week window opening July 17, according to NASA’s website.
The car-sized Perseverance Rover and accompanying helicopter are currently being prepped at Kennedy Space Center.
NASA knows how high the stakes are to keep missions like this scheduled and on time as opportunities for interplanetary missions come just once every 26 months when Earth and the Red Planet align properly.
“We’re going to ensure that we meet that launch window in July,” said the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Lori Glaze, according to SpaceNews. “As of right now, and even if we go to the next stage of alert, Mars 2020 is moving forward on schedule. And everything is, so far, very well on track.”
While the Mars Mission 2020 looks good, there have been some delays and suspensions to other projects.
“To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus, agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work must be performed on-site, and on-site work will be paused,” a March 20 NASA press release said.
NASA’s top priority has been in ensuring the safety and health of its astronauts and flight controllers but some projects may be delayed.
One of NASA’s most ambitious projects, the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed along with other NASA projects mainly another crucial mission, the Artemis, designed to return people to the moon in order to establish off-world colonies and potential mining stations on the moon.
“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 on-site will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure,” the press release explained.
NASA currently hopes that world events subside soon before Perseverance and other NASA projects are a go for launch and ready to help test the spatial waters and explore the universe around us.