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Space technology start-up company Bigelow Aerospace has reportedly laid off its employees amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

Sources familiar with the matter were quoted by Spacenews as saying the decision has been communicated to 68 employees with immediate effect.

This adds to the 20 employees who were laid off earlier.

The move has been partially blamed due to the pandemic.

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It also follows after the directive issued by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, which directs the closure of all ‘non-essential’ businesses.

The development has been confirmed by a Bigelow Aerospace spokesperson, who said it is in compliance with the governor’s order.

The spokesperson said keeping the company open will attract ‘fines, penalties and threats of having our business licence revoked’.

While some sources expected the lay-off to be permanent, the spokesperson revealed that the company is planning for recruitment after the withdrawal of the emergency directive.

Founded in 1999, Bigelow Aerospace provides safe and low-cost commercial space platforms for low-Earth orbit, the Moon and beyond.

The company secured a contract in 2013 to build and install the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) on the International Space Station (ISS).

It also launched two spacecraft from Russia, namely Genesis 1 in 2006 and Genesis 2 in 2007.

The total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached 351,377 worldwide while the death toll from the outbreak has reached 15,340.