Blinded by Capability Gaps

By 2016, seven of NASA’s 13 Earth-monitoring satellites will go dark, posing a risk to national security and US foreign policy interests, warns a Center for New American Security policy brief released Monday. Meanwhile, efforts to prevent a capability gap “have been plagued by budget cuts, launch failures, technical deficiencies, chronic delays, and poor interagency coordination,” write authors Christine Parthemore and Will Rogers. Further, the Air Force’s last Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite is expected to go out of service in 2019, they note. With the cancellation of the proposed follow-on National Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite System, it’s “unclear whether DOD will be prepared to meet the capability shortfall on its own” or “have to rely on civilian capabilities,” they contend. Post-NPOESS, the Air Force has been pursuing the Defense Weather Satellite System to address the military’s future weather forecasting needs. The policy brief does not discuss DWSS by name. (CNAS policy brief)