NASA has directed teams studying proposed flagship-class missions for the next astrophysics decadal survey to fit their concepts within cost caps that could force major changes to their designs.
Two months after suggesting the next major review of priorities in astrophysics research and missions to achieve those goals be delayed, the head of NASA’s science directorate says that study should stay on schedule.
With uncertainty about the future of two large space telescopes, NASA is continuing to suggest that the next decadal survey for astrophysics be postponed, a move opposed by many astronomers.
NASA announced Jan. 10 that it was renaming the Swift astronomy spacecraft after its former principal investigator, who passed away last year.
An independent review board for NASA’s next flagship astronomy mission concluded in its final report that the project is “not executable” without additional funding or adjustments to the spacecraft.
Forced to find nearly $30 million in cost savings, NASA’s astrophysics program has trimmed budget reserves on one mission approaching launch and delayed the schedule of another.
NASA will delay moving its newest flagship astronomy mission into its next stage of development to accommodate an independent review of the program.
As members of Congress took credit for NASA funding levels in a fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill, the agency’s science leadership is examining how those funds will affect its programs.
NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA will start work this spring on an orbiting X-ray astronomy telescope to replace one lost shortly after launch last year.
The head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, seeking to assure astronomers concerned about the next administration, said that the transition process has gone as he expected.
NASA is considering building a replacement for an instrument lost on a Japanese X-ray astronomy satellite earlier this year that could fly on another Japanese spacecraft.
NASA’s astrophysics division will cut several million dollars of research funds this year to partially cover a broader funding shortfall created by congressionally mandated allocations to other division programs.
NASA’s next flagship astronomy mission after the James Webb Space Telescope will become a formal project in February thanks to increased funding and direction from Congress, even as the agency looks to make cuts elsewhere in its astrophysics program.