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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

From canceled conferences to a delayed Mars mission, the space industry is starting to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads across the globe.

Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of people are already experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic.

  • Experts say people involved in the space industry need to be vigilant as private agencies and organizations start to be impacted as well.
  • "We're all, I think, taking it week by week if not day by day," Space Angels CEO Chad Anderson told Axios.

What’s happening: Europe and Russia decided to delay their joint ExoMars mission two years in part due to concerns around travel brought on by the pandemic.

  • NASA expects to prioritize missions with small launch windows like the Perseverance Mars mission to make sure they remain on time. The agency hasn't announced any delays so far.
  • Major gatherings of space industry insiders and scientists have been postponed, cut short or canceled, including the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs and Lunar and Planetary Sciences conference outside of Houston. The American Astronomical Society is also considering moving its summer meeting online.
  • Multiple NASA centers have moved to mandatory telework as the virus spreads through communities in the U.S.
  • Blue Origin and other space companies are encouraging their employees to work from home if they can.

China, on the other hand, is still on track to launch its first Mars mission in July despite the pandemic, according to state media reports.

What to watch: Experts say it's possible the space industry's workforce and supply chain issues will cause launch delays if impacts from the coronavirus continue to be felt for months.

  • Industry watchers should also expect that space companies, for the most part, will hunker down as the pandemic continues.
  • In a few months, as the crisis passes, it's possible that the government will start awarding relatively flexible contracts with few restrictions to help jump-start the space workforce, says Caelus Partners' Jose Ocasio-Christian.
  • Many new space companies are also dependent upon raising funds to get off the ground and build hardware. As the economy slumps, that money might be harder to come by.

Go deeper: The company leading the race to a coronavirus vaccine

Go deeper

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.