No One Happy Over NPOESS

Describing the tri-agency acquisition arrangement among DOD, NASA, and NOAA for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System as “largely dysfunctional” and citing known schedule and cost problems, Rep. Ellen Taucher (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services strategic forces panel, asked Gen. Robert Kehler for his assessment. The Air Force Space Command leader said bluntly, “We are not very happy either.” He said that because of continuing problems with the NPOESS program, for which NOAA has the lead for overall program management and satellite operations, AFSPC is “managing the time frame of launching” the last two military weather satellites “to hedge our bet” over NPOESS. One of the three remaining military satellites (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) is to launch later this year. He said that the latest in a series of studies on the NPOESS situation—which is to become the nation’s primary space weather system for both civil and military use—is “about to out-brief within the next week or so.” Kehler expects the recommendations to address both program content and program management, but he said he had not seen it yet.