Houston News : NASA seeking to help fight the coronavirus pandemic

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Top left clockwise, NASA officials Bettina Inclán and Dr. JD Polk, administrator Jim Bridenstine and associate administrator Steve Jurczyk addressed workers’ questions about COVID-19 during a vitrual session Wednesday.

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Top left clockwise, NASA officials Bettina Inclán and Dr. JD Polk, administrator Jim Bridenstine and associate administrator Steve Jurczyk addressed workers’ questions about COVID-19 during a vitrual session

… more

Photo: Screenshot From The NASA Video YouTube Channel

Photo: Screenshot From The NASA Video YouTube Channel

Top left clockwise, NASA officials Bettina Inclán and Dr. JD Polk, administrator Jim Bridenstine and associate administrator Steve Jurczyk addressed workers’ questions about COVID-19 during a vitrual session Wednesday.

less

Top left clockwise, NASA officials Bettina Inclán and Dr. JD Polk, administrator Jim Bridenstine and associate administrator Steve Jurczyk addressed workers’ questions about COVID-19 during a vitrual session

… more

Photo: Screenshot From The NASA Video YouTube Channel

NASA seeking to help fight the coronavirus pandemic

NASA is examining how its facilities and employees can help with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The supercomputing capacity at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California has been opened to COVID-19 researchers looking for treatments or vaccines. Houston’s Johnson Space Center will help create an agency-wide challenge for employees to submit ideas on how NASA could help address the pandemic.

“This is why all of us love working at NASA,” the agency’s administrator Jim Bridenstine said earlier this week. “Because we really do have an absolute can-do spirit, and we want to do the things that are going to help this nation the most.”

Bridenstine hosted a virtual “Ask the Administrator” session on Wednesday to answer workers’ questions about COVID-19. NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk and NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. JD Polk also answered questions.

The first question was on ventilators and if NASA could rapidly design, test and manufacture large ventilators that would simultaneously support multiple patients.

Jurczyk said NASA is discussing with the White House and other federal agencies ways to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Polk added that such meetings might identify ways to help other than just building ventilators. Maybe it’d be better to assist companies already building ventilators by, for example, using 3D printers to make parts that are in short supply for ventilator manufacturers.

“This is on the minds of a lot of people at the agency,” Bridenstine said. “NASA is involved in providing solution sets for the nation, and we will be more and more involved as days go on because we do have an extremely talented, very bright workforce and a lot of capabilities that can help.”

Polk also addressed a question on whether NASA could donate some of the personal protective equipment its employees use in clean rooms, such as masks and gloves.

“NASA orders its PPE in a just-in-time basis,” Polk said, so there is no massive stockpile that would provide supplies to donate.

Also, the agency is still using its protective equipment as it continues working on some critical missions. In some cases, NASA has had to send PPE from one center to another to support its work. However, Polk said the agency’s legal department and others are looking at how NASA would donate any extra equipment the agency might have — and make sure it’s the proper PPE to protect against COVID-19.

Ultimately, Bridenstine had an overarching message: NASA wants its employees and government contractors’ employees to feel safe. It’s striving to create an environment where people who aren’t telecommuting, working in NASA facilities on mission-essential tasks, feel as safe as they would working from home.

He also sought to inspire the workforce.

“Let’s not get caught up in these times that seem dark,” Bridenstine said. “Let’s start thinking about what the future looks like because the future is going to be bright. … And when we’re on the back side of the curve and NASA is doing amazing things, all of America will be very proud of us.”

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Source : chron.com