At least 132 employees at SpaceX’s Southern California headquarters have tested positive for coronavirus, according to information posted on the Los Angeles County website. It is currently the highest number of cases reported to private companies in the county.
The epidemic broke out as a wave of infection spread across the country, driven primarily by the Omicron virus variant, and a private space company founded and led by Elon Musk is operating a rapid series of rocket launches at sites in California and Florida.
At the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., About 6,000 employees build and manufacture SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets and crew dragon capsules. The rocket is a powerful launch vehicle used by private companies and governments to launch satellites, and the capsules are NASA’s primary vehicle for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. The company’s mission control room, where engineers are frequently shown during live video streams of launches, sitting behind masked computer monitors, is also in Hawthorne.
The outbreak at the Los Angeles Times’ previously reported headquarters, based on data posted Sunday by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, comes during a busy time for the company.
SpaceX broke the company’s record for the fastest turnaround time between two missions on Sunday, launching a Turkish submarine from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida just 18 hours after launching the company’s 52 Starlink Internet satellites into orbit from Wendenberg Space Force Base on Saturday. California. Another mission from Florida is scheduled for Tuesday morning, sending cargo capsules full of supplies and research to the space station for NASA despite the local weather being unfavorable.
SpaceX did not return a request for comment.
During the earlier stages of the coronavirus epidemic, Mr. Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX, focused on sanctions in California aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. In May last year, Shri. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, electric car maker, defined the public health order by resuming production at the company’s Fremont factory, despite restrictions preventing employees from working.
The day after Thanksgiving this year, Mr. Musk expressed fears of bankruptcy for SpaceX in an email he sent to employees, urging them to work through engineering challenges related to the development of the company’s next-generation rocket starship.
The epidemic has repeatedly disrupted space flight activities, with delays costing NASA $ 3 billion, according to an internal report, and the European-Russian mission to Mars had to be postponed from early 2020 to 2022. Yet SpaceX has maintained its function almost throughout the epidemic. , Including the resumption of astronaut launches from American soil in May 2020.
Mr. Musk himself tested positive for the virus in November 2020 and was excluded from attending the launch of four astronauts into space for NASA from the Kennedy Space Center.