NASA’s Roman Space Telescope faces a delay and cost rise due to a pandemic

The Roman Space Telescope has completed its essential design review, but the pandemic will cause it to be delayed by several months and cost more. Roman completed its key design evaluation on September 29, indicating that all design and engineering activities for the space telescope have been finished. The mission can now move on with full-scale assembly and evaluation of the spacecraft.

In a statement, Julie McEnery, who serves as the senior project scientist in charge of the Roman at the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “After seeing our intensive hardware testing and advanced modeling, an impartial review panel has validated that observatory we have constructed will operate.” “We have a good idea of how it will look and what it is going to be able of. The team is excited to continue creating and testing the observatory they have envisioned now that the foundation has been laid.”

After the James Webb Space Telescope, Roman, formerly dubbed as Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), is indeed the agency’s next major astrophysics mission. It has a 2.4-meter mirror as well as equipment that astronomers will use to examine everything from exoplanets to the dark energy.

Roman had a deployment readiness schedule of no later than 2026 October at the time of the mission’s certification in March 2020; even as the epidemic was taking root in the United States, mission leaders were aiming for deployment as soon as a year sooner. However, in its announcement of the significant design review, NASA stated that the mission will now launch no later than 2027 May.

The delay is due to the pandemic’s lingering effects, which hindered work on the spaceship and disrupted supply systems. At a session of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) on September 28, Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, remarked, “COVID has had a big impact on Roman.”

According to him, the pandemic caused “inefficiencies” in the telescope’s work as well as “major supply chain repercussions” that have pushed back the delivery of the telescope’s components. As a result, the cost and timeline for the telescope were revised, including a 7-month delay in the deployment commitment date.

Hertz simply claimed there had been a “proper addition of cost that fits that 7-month slip in that deployment date” when it came to the price. He didn’t give a number, and a NASA representative didn’t react to a question regarding the revised cost on September 29. However, the Office of the Inspector General at NASA estimated that the pandemic would increase Roman’s expenditures by $400 million in March. Before the pandemic, Roman had a total lifespan cost of $3.9 billion.

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