White House Looks to Dismantle NPOESS Program
[Satellite TODAY 02-04-10] The National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program will be dismantled and split between separate projects headed by the U.S. Department of Defense and a partnership between NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) confirmed Feb. 1.
“The new system will resolve this challenge by splitting the procurements. NOAA and NASA will take primary responsibility for the afternoon orbit, and [the Pentagon] will take primary responsibility for the morning orbit. The agencies will continue to partner in those areas that have been successful in the past, such as a shared ground system,” the OSTP said in a statement.
NPOESS, a joint program between the U.S. military and the U.S. Department of Commerce, has stalled due to a lack of interest by the military to continue providing 50 percent of the program’s funding. The program’s initial estimated cost of $6.5 billion has doubled due to development problems on NPOESS sensors, causing launch dates to be postponed by several years, according to the OSTP.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman both have NPOESS contracts that would have to be resolved if the program was dismantled. The OSTP said that it was still working on the details of how to conduct the program split.
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