Friday, September 20, 2019

WFIRST Passes its Preliminary Design Review

The telescope for a major NASA astrophysics mission has passed a key review that the agency says keeps it on track for launch in the mid-2020s despite uncertainty about its funding for 2020 and beyond.

NASA announced Aug. 28 that the telescope assembly for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission passed its preliminary design review (PDR), allowing the project to continue work to finalize its design.

WFIRST, scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s, is NASA’s next flagship astrophysics mission after the James Webb Space Telescope. The mission will use a 2.4-meter mirror provided to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office. That mirror is currently being modified by L3 Harris Technologies for use on WFIRST.

The telescope will later be equipped with both a wide-field imager instrument and a coronagraph, which blocks light from stars to allow direct imaging of planets and dust disks orbiting them. Both will have their own preliminary design reviews, along with one for the entire mission.

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