Carter OKs Weather Sat

Carter OKs Weather Sat

The Pentagon’s head of acquisition signed an Acquisition Decision Memorandum last week telling the Air Force to plow ahead and develop plans for a new weather satellite, one replacing the ill-fated NPOESS program.

Ironically, the requirements for the new satellite — to be known as the Defense Weather Satellite — are the same as they were for NPOESS, according to a congressional aide. This means that the main difference from NPOESS will be that there will a Defense Department satellite containing sensors that meet the military’s requirements instead of a single satellite that meets the requirements of DoD, as well as its former NPOESS partners, NOAA and NASA.

As we reported in May, Ash Carter knew he needed something to do the job, but he wasn’t yet sure just what it should be. This new ADM tells the Air Force to go out and figure how many satellites will be needed and just what sensors should be installed. And it provides some direction on what is needed to do that.


The House Armed Services Committee voted to cut $300 million from the NPOESS program, leaving a token $25 million in the kitty.  That worried Carter because he wants to make sure the Air Force has the money it needs so it can build whatever it decides it needs. We don’t know what the HAC-D did yet because its report has not been released, or leaked.

The final NPOESS divorce between the Pentagon, NASA and NOAA was ordered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy after they concluded that the memorandum of understanding signed by the three government agencies would never be properly enforced. NPOESS has long been a model for how not to manage a satellite program, but government officials worried that killing NPOESS might leave the Defense Department without critically important weather information. So they just kept pushing the program along. No more. Let’s see if Northrop Grumman, NPOESS’s builder, will win this contract.

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Confused as to what a weather satellite has to do with the military.. why is the air force even involved? Shouldn’t this just be left to NOAA and perhaps include NASA aswell? Just build a replacement with all the latest stuff to replace our 50 year old weather satellites we got now.. end of story. Stop funding other junk and do this!

Perhaps I’m missing something and am completely stupid.. but it seems simple to me.

part 1
The Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP) has provided DoD with weather data since the early 1960s — not that the current satellites are 50 years old! And not that they use 50 year old technology! The coverage is mostly duplicative of the NOAA satellites — the Air Force put the DMSP satellites into a “sun synchronous” polar orbit so they could get good weather for (film) photo satellite targetting. With current geosynch weather satellites and other sun synchronous satellites — there is not that much justification for the dedicated military satellites anymore. The DMSP satellites would still give polar cloud coverage but (according to Wikipedia) there are NOAA satellites that also give that information. And with current, digital, photo intel satellites you are not going to waste film taking photos of clouds. And today we are not quite so concerned with the far northern Soviet bases, many of our photo targets are now much closer to the equator and covered well by geo-synchronous satellites.

part 2
I did use data from some of the DMSP satellites in my research, and so I have a soft spot for them.
With the DoD budget so large — this seems like a cost that could be cut. Unless there is something on those satellites that cannot be hosted on another agency’s satellite.
One question — the Air Force used to have a group that operated the DMSP satellites but they were phased out and NOAA (Suitland, Maryland) took over control. They even offered me a job. I wonder if the AF would resume control of DMSP?

HIstorically, NPOESS was an attempt to combine NOAA POES satellites with the DoD DMSP. Unfortunately, they have opposed goals: The DoD is primarily concerned with weather imagery for military operations (get the image fast, don’t care that much about accuracy), NOAA/NASA were more concerned with precision measurement (get an accurate number, but not so quickly). The combined program office (DoD, NOAA, NASA) were unable to reconcile/compromise these goals…

“Just build a replacement with all the latest stuff to replace our 50 year old weather satellites we got now.. end of story.”

Well, yes, that’s the idea! Unfortunately, the “latest stuff” has to be certified to operate in space. You don’t want it to fall apart during launch, or melt when it gets in the sun, or fry when the cosmic rays hit it.

As for what the military has to do with weather: just ask Patton’s Third Army about air support.

Some background: http://​findarticles​.com/​p​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​m​i​_​7​4​7​6​/​i​s​_​201http://​www​.spacenews​.com/​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​/​1​0​0​6​3​0​-​p​e​n​t​a​gonhttp://​www​.spacenews​.com/​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​/​1​0​0​3​2​9​-​n​o​r​t​h​rophttp://​www​.spacenews​.com/​c​i​v​i​l​/​1​0​0​2​0​2​-​w​h​i​t​e​-​h​o​use

You all should do more research. The USAF is the Executive DoD Agent for Space Acquisition and Execution by law. The sister services rely on the USAF to do this and feed them data. You can’t just get rid of DoD Wx sat’s and have NOAA do it. They don’t have the budget, the expertise, or the requirement knowledge experiment to do so. They all have to play together since they rely on each other. DoD has some very precise, i.e. accurate requirements they care for more than others for operational needs where as NOAA doesn’t. Half of NOAAs is all science related while only partially concerned with daily weather. Weather is much more than just you when it will rain, snow, shine, or have a hurricane. There are sensor factors that your local weather person doesn’t use that others in the weather science community, either in space or earth bound.

Hey “Space Wx Dude” and “Space”, I agree with you and disagree with the rest. For anyone to say that the military should get out of the weather satellite business and rely on NOAA and NASA misses a few critical and practical points relative to military operations: (1) assured access to weather data over data denied areas cannot be guaranteed, unless NOAA and NASA are willing to protect their weather monitoring capabilities to the extent required by military necessity–protection was not high on their priority list even though NPOESS is clearly a national security space asset. In a near peer space challenge, those who understand the importance of weather in combat planning and execution will seek to deny the US this capability, (2) NOAA and NASA have a completely different view of requirements verses military and classified users. They fulfill needs of a customer set with far different requirements

and with different implications than do military customers. NPOESS was a good college try, but getting all the parties to agree on what’s “good enough” meant different things to different people and therefore you got NPOESS trying to solve world hunger. Military requirements are much more focused on the bottom-line–more effectively killing the bad guy and breaking his things and assuring safety of our troops and their ability to accomplish military objectives. Also sensors of the natural space environment (space weather) are needed for a similar purpose, to attribute cause and effect on our national security space systems and services so we have the ability to implement COAs and techniques that either mitigate or plan for the associated effects. I also disagree with the statement Drew9 makes on DoD vice NOAA/NASA

requirements. DoD is not only interested in clouds, and DOES care about accuracy and timeliness. Combat planning and execution is most effective when monitoring is accurate (e.g. execution and BDA) and when monitoring is accurate, forecasts are more accurate and supported plans become more effective. Also, forecast models and military decision applications rely on more than clouds, they need moisture and humidity profiles, ground troops need soil moisture estimates, Navy and Marines need to know sea states and littoral conditions, SSA and space superiority needs accurate space environment data. All this information is integrated into military operations in ways that give us military advantage. That saves lives on both sides of the conflict. That’s why the military needs the ability to own its own capabilities. DMSP has an excellent heritage showing what it can do and with a focus on DoD-only requirements.

NPOESS had been through several rigorous audits and program reviews prior to cancellation. It appeared ready for production and could have proceeded and probably been very successful. Unfortunately, the customers couldn’t or wouldn’t work together, especially NASA it appears. Now the taxpayer will have to pay for 2 programs instead of one. On top of that NASA has decided to proceed with using a Satellite Bus for the 1st JPSS mission that doesn’t meet the operational mission requirements and was only intended to support a technology demonstration/risk reduction mission. The Bus can certainly be upgraded with enough money and schedule time, but that’s short supply right now so why go there.

Hey Satman– I take it you work for NG Business Development.….….….Why don’t you just be honest and fess up. NG’s performance on NPOESS can only be described as abysmal. Poor (nonexistent) subcontract management, inability to flow requirements, cost overruns, waiver after waiver, delay after delay. NG should just change their name to Nunn-McCurdy. You’re comment about the “taxpayer” almost makes me want to puke. NG’s NPOESS contract was awarded in 2002.….…8 years and what does NG have to show for it????? A bill for $8B+ (NG bid $2.6B) AND the dubious distinction of an episode on the NBC News “Fleecing of America”. On yeah– trashing the NPP & JPSS effort is a real joke– at least these spacecraft ACTUALLY EXIST. NPP is READY TO LAUNCH.….…do your research. Short on time????- thanks a lot NG. Another shaft to the warfighter courtesy of NGC………

The race to install new update versions of Sat due to the growing fear of Solar Storm activities is increasing the threat of a EMP loophole which could reduce the capablities of the Defence Sat of a number of nations and protecting these new weather Sat with anti-EMP should hopefully reduce the risk. However, other nations are facing smiliar situations as the Sun activities causing some alarm .

there are many items that were/are to be placed on the bus structure that is controlled by outside contractors. to a contractor, everyone of them have been late or has not fullfilled the requirements. It is not only NG’s fault. Basic engineering drawings coming in from outside contractors have been riddled with errors that have to be worked through. What was known as NPOESS is an enormous logistical project, requirering new technology to be developed for the bird and for the manufacturing of it. Unless you work here you can have no idea of the magnatude of the project.

Hey Guest 1 — you are so far off the base path that an ump would call you OUT! NPP is not even ready to launch, as noted smartly by satman. NPP has slipped so far to the right it makes an ice skater look like their are on firm footing. Isn’t NPP along the lines of too many years late to need? NPP instruments have been very late to delivery pushing out the NPP launch because the providers were creating errors so simple that a first year engineering student would look like a grad student. The NPP bus integrator is a someone who is looked upon as someone who can’t really do a real satellite job. You Guest 1 must work for NOAA NESDIS, one of the real reasons why NPP and NPOESS are they way they are today. NPP will be an operational gapfiler until JPSS gets off of the concrete at Goddard. May not have built for it, but get used to this fact.

Satman– Pinning the blame for this train wreck on the government customer is disingenuous at best. Countless articles cite “the contractor is behind schedule, over budget, and underperforming”- ALL three of these elements are the direct responsibility of the NPOESS prime contractor– Northrop Grumman. NG markets itself to the government as a “prime contractor” (I’ve personally had the “pleasure” of sitting thru the sales pitch on several occasions). The definition of a prime contractor is “chief contractor who has the full responsibility for its completion. A prime contractor undertakes to perform a complete contract, and may employ and manage one or more subcontractors to carry out specific parts of the contract”. I think it’s fair to say that NG’s role on NPOESS fits this within this definition. Key points in the definition: “full responsibility for its completion” and “manage one or more subcontractors”. Yet, from your comments as well as comments from ronaldmgse52, both of you seek to absolve NG from its responsibilities in the two key areas that resulted in the NPOESS failure– failure to properly manage subcontractors and failure to perform.

As for as my previous comment regarding the NPP launch– I apologize. Please excuse my excitement at the very real prospect that a capability will FINALLY be on-orbit in my LIFETIME. According to the Goddard website– NPP completed integration of the final sensor in July and is entering environmental testing with launch scheduled for late 2011. “NPP is NOT anywhere near ready to launch”- pleeease…….compared to the NG NPOESS debacle, I’ll take a 2011 launch any day. BTW– a quick check also reveals that the NPP bus was completed in 2005. Why the delay for NPP launch?.….… you guess it– NASA had to wait for the NPOESS prime contractor, NG, to deliver the instruments and sensors…….

Finally– panning the JPSS & DWSS program teams who are doing their best to mop up NG’s mess and get capabilities on orbit soon as possible with what’s available (technology & funding) is a disservice. Your delusional dedication to “continuing the NPOESS program” and predicting its ultimate “success” is based on a crystal ball argument– the foundation of which rests on your belief that had NG been allowed to continue with NPOESS, the program probably would have “been very successful” (your words). Based on performance to date, there is NO reasonable, rational data to back up this premise and since you don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, past performance is the best predictor here. It’s almost like you are begging to spend the NEXT 10 years of your life “reading” about this NG train wreck……My view is if the government had been foolish enough to continue with NG on NPOESS, hoping (betting) on a 2014 launch, the result would simply be more cost overruns, more delays, and more waste of taxpayer money. Past performance backs this argument and, thankfully, senior leadership realized this as well.

Hey Space Dude– quit being Satman’s “Toady” (no offense Satman) and come back when you have an original thought– your ignorance of this situation and aerospace in general is clearly evident.……

Hey Guest 1, when you pull back the curtain and really learn what happened, come back with real info. Until then, go outside and play with the shovel and pail you are all to familiar with. What you read is not what it all seems to be. While you may think a launch 5 years LATE is ok, had they been anywhere close to be 3 years late, things would be much better off. Your ignorance of the real facts is completely evident. Had the sensor providers been on time, read your facts there, then things would not have had such a bad rap. ITT and Raytheon could not stop making childish mistakes. Why don’t you go and pull up info on the individual NPP sensors and see what is written there. You might learn that NG did not get what they needed when they needed it. They couldn’t do what they needed to then. Also, you are comparing NPP to NPOESS. Do you know anything about the two? The only thing NPP was good for was trying out the sensors and ground system, not the bus or other items. NPP on a good day is not even half the bus NPOESS is today, with all of the items being flown and the quals it will beat NPP on.

Oh Guest 1, you are still here? Check the gov’t financial statements and you will see the money wasn’t going to be there, no matter the technical success and the abiltiy to make ’14. NASA was doing its best to make sure this was not going to succeed while getting the OSTP to bite off on it. Soooo, while panning the JPSS team is a disservice in your mind, it is the truth. It is a CF at best and one that will be lucky to get anywhere in the near term (~4 years). The only train wreck that will still happen based on the paradigm being reviewed today is the sensor providers still not doing the job required to meet the C, S, and P contracted for.

Guest 1, based on the half truths and erroneous info provided to the public by the entertainment media to sensationalize (for ratings maybe?) program delays and cost increases on NPOESS, I can understand why you might think it’s ALL NG’s fault. Other companies have gone through similar experiences but NG hit the Big Trifecta with it’s program customer team. You can blame the ‘Prime Contractor’ for everything if it brings you comfort and allows you the satisfaction of throwing stones in the manner in which you have above. But honestly, the customer sets the terms and conditions of the contract, controls the funding, makes requirements changes that drive cost increases (‘overruns’ from baseline) and causes schedule impacts (delays from baseline). To place all the blame on the contractor for the repercussions of customer related impacts is what is ‘disingenuous at best’. See some of the past articles on NPOESS: http://​science​.house​.gov/​R​e​l​a​t​e​d​B​y​T​a​g​.​a​s​p​x​?​K​e​y​wor
EVERY contractor in the Aerospace World has it’s share of difficulties including BALL AEROSPACE. NG is not worse than the others as you seem to imply above. In fact TRW / NGAS has a very impressive and successful history in the Satellite Arena, both classified and unclassified. Some criticism is undoubtedly justified, but ‘me thinks you protest too much’ and I have to question your judgment as a result. No disrespect intended.

Guest1, seems there may be more to the story developing. See: http://​www​.spacenews​.com/​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​/​1​0​0​8​2​4​-​p​e​n​t​a​gon
Now why would the DoD stick with NG for DWSS if they are as incompetent as you say.……hmmmm

Go to SpaceNews​.com for further developments on this story.….looks like two in the barn going through SLEP are making the near-term future interesting with the Senate.…..

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
S. 3454 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011
http://​content​.govdelivery​.com/​a​t​t​a​c​h​m​e​n​t​s​/​U​S​E​OPW

Statement of Administration Policy on Defense Bill

Defense Weather Satellites:
The Administration objects to the committee’s reduction of $241.8 million in funding for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program. The decision to restructure the program, taken in February, was designed to address chronic budget, schedule, and management difficulties. DoD’s senior leadership recently approved a long-term, follow-on weather satellite program to NPOESS – the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). The Committee’s reduction would significantly hinder the Department from taking the necessary steps to implement DWSS and to transition critical assets and data to NOAA, potentially resulting in future gaps in military and civil weather satellite coverage. The reduction could also result in terminating major elements of the existing program, impairing development of NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System program, and incurring an otherwise avoidable termination liability for both DoD and Commerce.
http://​www​.aviationweek​.com/​a​w​/​b​l​o​g​s​/​d​e​f​e​n​s​e​/​i​nde

Hmmmmmmmmm.….….Last nail in the coffin.…finally http://​www​.spacenews​.com/​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​/​a​i​r​-​f​o​r​c​e​-​d​r​aws

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