Chip Off the Old Block

The first in the line of next-generation US climate-monitoring satellites to evolve out of the now-defunct NPOESS weather satellite program will be based on the same design used for the NPOESS preparatory project (NPP) satellite, a senior Commerce Department official recently told Congress. NPP, set for launch in September 2011, will be used on orbit for climate monitoring. Commerce undersecretary Mary Glackin told House lawmakers June 29 that the first Joint Polar-Orbiting Satellite System will be an NPP clone in order to minimize the risk of having it available for launch in 2014 to prevent a coverage gap. JPSS-2 will be based on a yet-to-be-determined design, she said. The Defense Department and Commerce are now developing separate weather and climate-monitoring satellites, respectively, in the wake of NPOESS’s demise. The Pentagon wants its first new Defense Weather Satellite System ready for launch in 2018.