Photo of WFIRST

Issue 16 - April 2016
WFIRST Enters Formulation Phase
By Ingolf Heinrichsen

After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe -- the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

The NASA Agency Program Management Council passed the mission through its Key Decision Point A (KDP-A) on February 17th and turned the study into an actual flight project in its formulation phase. Up to this point, the study was known under the acronym WFIRST-AFTA, for its use of the 2.4m telescope asset and to distinguish it from earlier similar studies. It has now dropped the AFTA moniker and from now on, it is simply known as the WFIRST mission.

Slated to launch in the mid-2020s, the observatory will begin its 6-year operations after traveling to a gravitational balance point known as Sun-Earth L2, which is located about one million miles from Earth directly opposite the Sun.

The mission is led by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which will also build the spacecraft and the wide-field camera instrument in addition to integrating and testing the complete flight system. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California will manage the mission's 7.8-foot (2.4-meter) telescope, built by the Harris Corporation, and deliver the coronagraph instrument. The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland will share the science center activities, under Goddard leadership.

Read the full press release here: