NOAA Keeps Weather and Space Weather Satellites Under FY2016 Budget Proposal

NOAA Keeps Weather and Space Weather Satellites Under FY2016 Budget Proposal

NOAA will focus on weather and space weather satellites in the future if the Administration’s FY2016 budget proposal is adopted, shifting other satellite responsibilities to NASA.  NOAA’s FY2016 request also includes a new Polar Follow On program to acquire two more Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites in addition to the two already under development.

The $2.38 billion request for NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) includes funding for Operations, Research and Facilities (ORF) and Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction (PAC).   The PAC account funds development of JPSS, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R series and other satellite programs familiar to readers of this website.  The PAC request is $2.189 billion.

The request for GOES-R is $871.8 million, a decrease from last year largely due to development ramping down.  JPSS would be funded at $809 million, also a reduction from last year for the same reason.  NOAA is also requesting $370 million to initiate the Polar Follow On (PFO) program to build two more JPSS satellites, JPSS-3 and -4, and $10 million for an “Earth Observing Nanosatellite-Microwave (EON-MW) miniature microwave sounder” that approximates the functions of an instrument on JPSS-1 (the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder) in case something goes awry with it. 

Funding ramps down for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) space weather satellite and the Jason-3 ocean altimetry mission, both of which will be launched soon.  The request continues funding for COSMIC-2, a radio occultation mission.

NOAA also is requesting $2.5 million for a “Space Weather Follow On”  to analyze options for and initiate development of a new space weather satellite.

NOAA has been trying to find a way to accommodate three instruments that were intended to be launched on the since-canceled NPOESS platforms:  the Total Solar and Spectral Irradiance Sensor (TSIS), the Advanced Data Collection System (A-DCS), and the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) instruments.   NOAA called this SIDAR in last year’s budget request, but Congress cut funding for it.   For FY2016, agreement was reached for TSIS to be transferred to NASA.   The request for A-DCS and SARSAT under the SIDAR account for FY2016 is just $500,000, with no funds projected for future years (it simply says TBD) even though the budget documents say they will be launched in FY2019.

The Obama Administration is proposing that NASA assume responsibility for some activities, like TSIS and future ocean altimetry missions in the Jason series, that currently are under NOAA’s purview. NASA and NOAA FY2016 budget documents use the same phrasing to describe the new framework: “NOAA will be responsible only for satellite missions that contribute directly to” its “ability to issue weather and space weather forecasts and warnings to protect life and property.”  NASA’s budget documents go a bit further to clarify that “Geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites, radio occultation satellites, and space weather satellites remain within the NOAA budget.”

NASA’s budget request for earth sciences would increase substantially in FY2016 partially as a result of its new responsibilities.   NASA spokesman Allard Buetel said via email today that of the $174.8 million increase requested for earth science for FY2016, approximately $54 million is due to the transfer of NOAA activities to NASA.  He identified TSIS-1 and -2, RBI, OMPS-L and AFO as the programs moving over to NASA.  RBI is the Radiation Budget Instrument; OMPS-L is the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite-Limb Profiler; and AFO is Altimetry Follow On, future ocean altimetry missions.

NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce and the Obama Administration is again proposing to reorganize several Executive Branch agencies, including the Department, to create a new department that would “focus on business and economic growth.”  Under the proposal, NOAA would be transferred to the Department of the Interior.  The proposal has not received much support in the past.


User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.