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Report: NASA to Postpone Upcoming WFIRST Project Reviews

NASA plans to delay upcoming project assessments of an astronomy mission to pave the way for an independent study of the program, Space News reported Monday.

The agency will conduct the independent review of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission in response to a recommendation in a 2016 National Academies report about the 2010 decadal survey for astrophysics, according to Space News.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, said the review will analyze the WFIRST mission’s technical requirements, management processes, schedule plans and cost as well as the possible integration of a tool – coronagraph – that works to facilitate direct imaging of planets by blocking starlight.

NASA has begun to recruit panel members and expects to complete the review in two months, Zurbuchen said at a May 3 presentation before the National Academies’ space studies board.

The report said NASA will subject WFIRST to systems requirements evaluation in June and expects the mission to enter the Phase B development phase in October.

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