Tuesday, June 24, 2008

GAO report reveals continuing problems with NPOESS

Space Mart: Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology's Energy and Environment Subcommittee continued its oversight of the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). "This program is vital to our daily lives," said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX). "When launched, NPOESS will be the primary source of information the National Weather Service uses to make its long-range forecasts, and the military will need NPOESS data to plan operations around the globe."

However, the program continues to experience management and technical problems. Mr. Dave Powner of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified on the latest report concerning the troubled weather satellite program, and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Conrad Lautenbacher, responded.

Recent events have once more raised questions about the stability of the program, including a new threat to the most critical instrument. Key documents have still not been finalized and approved by the Executive Committee, the tri-agency body that oversees the NPOESS program. GAO testified that this is unacceptable. This continued delay in decision-making may create new management risks, and Mr. Lampson expressed concern that such delays stored up more trouble for the future….

Illustration of a satellite of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), NOAA, Wikimedia Commons

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