A day after the full House Science, Space, and Technology Committee tackled the issue of NASA’s human spaceflight program, two of its subcommittees will take on today another key topic: the nation’s polar weather satellite programs. The Investigations and Oversight subcommittee is joining with the Energy and Environment subcommittee for a hearing titled “From NPOESS to JPSS: An Update on the Nation’s Restructured Polar Weather Satellite Program” at 10 am EDT. Witnesses include NOAA deputy administrator Kathryn Sullivan, NASA associate administrator Chris Scolese, and David Powner of the GAO.
There have been long-running concerns about the future of the nation’s polar weather satellite programs, which led the administration last year to cancel the joint civil-military NPOESS, separating the civil Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) from the military’s Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). In June, Sullivan gave what she described as a “pretty bleak picture” for the future of the civil efforts, warning of a gap in coverage as existing satellites reach the end of their lives while JPSS replacements face funding issues. The military’s DWSS is beyond the scope of this hearing, but its future isn’t looking too good, either: Senate appropriators moved last week to deny funding to DWSS, seeking to recompete the contract for future defense weather satellites rather than repurpose Northrop Grumman’s former NPOESS contract for this.