NOAA Administrator: Budget Restructuring Impacts Satellite Capability

[Satellite TODAY Insider 03-08-12] The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has significantly restructured the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program in order to cap spending at $12.9 billion, according to the NOAA’s fiscal 2013 budget request and a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued earlier this week.

   NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said that while the budget restructuring could get the agency’s weather satellite projects back on track financially, the funding cuts also would result in the loss of some satellite capability.
   “[The cuts will] entail the loss of some of the sensors that we had initially envisioned to fly on those satellites, but we are, in fact, committed to staying with that cap,” Lubchenco said during testimony before a House Subcommittee. “I think that the success we’re having now with the Suomi NPP satellite, the instruments that are on it, our good partnership with NASA, in that regard, and all of the activities we have engaged in with the JPSS to date, suggest we have turned this around. We are on track.”
   U.S. President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal requests $1.8 billion to fund the development of the geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites. NOAA would receive a total budget authority of $5.18 billion in fiscal 2013, or 1.31 percent more than fiscal 2012 estimated spending when accounting for inflation.
   The fiscal 2013 budget request also would fund the National Weather Service at $872 million, or 6.12 percent less than fiscal 2012 estimated spending. The weather service would eliminate its wind profiler network under the proposed budget.
   “Funding is critical to keep the programs on track and minimize the expected gap between the recently launched between the recently launched Suomi NPP satellite and JPPS. Without full funding the risk that there will be a more significant gap increases greatly,” said Lubchenco. “I don’t believe this will impact the quality of our weather service. Part of what we’re focusing on is converting our Doppler radar systems into what’s called dual polarization radar. And that is giving us very good ability to have very precise information about conditions conducive to tornado formation.”
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