NASA has delayed production of the rocket and spacecraft for its Artemis moon program amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency said Thursday it is closing the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, as well as the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, in response "to the rising number of COVID-19 cases" in those areas. It also said a member of the Stennis team has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Both facilities had been working on what NASA calls "the world's most powerful rocket": the Space Launch System, or SLS. Now the agency says it "will temporarily suspend production and testing" of the SLS and its accompanying Orion crew capsule. Both are part of NASA's Artemis program, which includes a mission to send the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024.
NASA said the production delay will have "impacts to NASA missions," but that its main priority at the moment "is the health and safety of the NASA workforce."