This week, the White House announced its proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, which of course includes NASA's budget for the same time period. Notably, for the second year in a row, it proposes cutting the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, also known as WFIRST Last year, fortunately, Congress disagreed with the administration and provided funds for the project, and are likely to do so again.

Now, the official rationale for stopping the project is largely financial:

Given delays and cost growth with the James Webb Space Telescope, the Administration is not ready to proceed with another multi-billion-dollar space telescope.

"Higher priorities within NASA" have also been cited, which I assume refers to the James Webb Space Telescope, which regrettably is dealing with cost overruns and delays.

That said, everything I've heard indicates that scientists are very much in favor of keeping WFIRST, and have been for some time. Therefore, I'm wondering: Is there actually any scientific or technical reasons for cutting WFIRST (e.g. some sort of significant overlap in capabilities with JWST that I'm missing), or am I correct in saying that there only reasons to cut it are financial?

  • $\begingroup$ Got to keep that money free for the SLS, which will never fly. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2019 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ The science case for WFIRST is solid, that's why it made the design-race in the first place. Technical reasons.. don't think so, there is nothing revolutionary in it. Why would it not simply be as stated, a money issue? $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2019 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ somewhat related to the process (but not the telescope); Scott Manley's SLS Rocket In Trouble After New White House Budget Request though WFIRST is mentioned after 06:00. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 13, 2019 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ also slightly related, showing how things are in a state of flux at the moment, but hopefully not permanently "fluxed up" is the New York Times article: A NASA Journey to the Moon May Need to Find Another Rocket or Two $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 14, 2019 at 7:09


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