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Bigelow Aerospace, builder of commercial space stations, has laid off its entire workforce, stating this was due to the lockdown by Nevada’s state government due to the Wuhan flu.
According to sources familiar with the company’s activities, Bigelow Aerospace’s 68 employees were informed that they were being laid off, effective immediately. An additional 20 employees were laid off the previous week.
Those sources said that the company, based in North Las Vegas, Nevada, was halting operations because of what one person described as a “perfect storm of problems” that included the coronavirus pandemic. On March 20, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive ordering all “nonessential” businesses to close.
A company spokesperson confirmed March 23 that the company laid off all its employees because of the governor’s order, and that it faced “fines, penalties and threats of having our business license revoked” if it remained open. The spokesperson added that the company planned to hire workers back once the emergency directive was lifted, although other sources interpreted the layoffs as a permanent measure.
Considering how Bigelow has allowed other commercial space station companies, such as Axiom, to move ahead of it, this decision is not surprising. The panic over COVID-19 only pushed it along.
Whether Bigelow as a company returns once the coronavirus panic subsides however remains an open question.