Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Recommends Zero Funding for NPOESS, $50 million for DWSS

Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Recommends Zero Funding for NPOESS, $50 million for DWSS

The Senate defense appropriations subcommittee (SAC-D) marked up the FY2011 defense appropriations bill today recommending zero funding for DOD’s portion of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) that the White House wants restructured after years of cost overruns and schedule slips. It approved $50 million for DOD’s successor program, the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS).

NPOESS was designed to merge the separate military and civil weather satellite systems of DOD and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce). NASA was involved in a technical capacity. An independent assessment of the NPOESS program led by former Lockheed Martin executive Tom Young raised warning flags about the program and in February the White House decided to break the program apart so that each agency had its own system once more.

NOAA renamed its portion the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and is proceeding with procuring its first satellite through NASA. DOD renamed its portion the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). In its FY2011 budget request, DOD asked for $325 million for its part of the restructured program although it provided few details on its plan, for example whether it would retain the satellite “bus” design developed through Northrop Grumman, the NPOESS prime contractor.

SAC-D zeroed that request while providing $50 million for DWSS. Unlike NOAA, which has launched the last of its legacy polar-orbiting weather satellites and thus is anxious to launch the first JPSS in 2014, DOD has two of its legacy Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites awaiting launch, so the need to decide on the replacement version is less urgent.

The only other space program mentioned in the committee’s press release is Operationally Responsive Space, for which $40 million was added.

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