Pandemic may delay several NASA astrophysics missions

WASHINGTON — Several NASA astrophysics missions in various stages of development are likely facing delays because of the coronavirus pandemic, an agency official said.

At a Sept. 21 meeting of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, said the agency anticipated a number of missions, big and small, will suffer delays, although it may take time to determine the exact effects on the schedule.

“All of our missions in development are proceeding, however, they are suffering reduced efficiency because of the pandemic,” he said. That includes a reduced pace of work to incorporate social distancing and related measures, as well as travel restrictions. “Disruptions to the supply chain are affecting us now, and that will be a ripple effect that we won’t know the full extent for quite a while.”

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