The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is expected to slip 12-14 months as a result of Congress’s failure to pass new appropriations for fiscal 2011.
JPSS is the civil follow-on to the canceled National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (Npoess) on which NOAA was partnered with the U.S. Air Force and NASA. JPSS had been targeted for a first launch in 2014. USAF is now pursuing its own polar weather satellite system in parallel, called the Defense Weather Satellite System (Aerospace DAILY, Feb. 7).
In lieu of new spending, NOAA has been funded under continuing resolutions (CRs) for fiscal 2011, which essentially froze spending at 2010 levels and crippled JPSS. NOAA requested $1.1 billion for the program in fiscal 2011, which would have been a $678 million increase over the funding requested for polar satellite efforts in fiscal 2010.
The agency sought an exception for JPSS to the continuing resolution, but was denied (Aerospace DAILY, June 30, 2010). This caused the program to “substantially contract against its planned activity for the year,” according to Maureen Wylie, NOAA’s chief financial officer.
For now, the JPSS program is focusing on ground systems in anticipation of the scheduled October launch of the Npoess Preparatory Project satellite, Wylie told reporters during a Feb. 14 teleconference on NOAA’s fiscal 2012 budget request. The proposal includes $5.5 billion in total for NOAA, which is $6.8 million less than the Obama administration’s fiscal 2011 top-line request, but a $749 million increase over the agency’s enacted budget for fiscal 2011.
The fiscal 2012 request for JPSS is $1.07 billion, which would be a $687.8 million increase from its budget under the CR.
NOAA’s other major satellite development program, the next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite program, or GOES-R, is requesting $617.4 million for fiscal 2010, which is less than the annualized funding under the fiscal 2011 CR. The proposed budget also includes $737 million for research and development related to climate, weather and ecosystem science, and for supporting infrastructure.