WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems of Redondo Beach, Calif., a $152 million contract modification for work related to a civil-military weather satellite program that was canceled three-and-a-half years ago, the Pentagon announced Aug. 23.

The modification moves the program, the National Polar Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), one step closer to termination, the Pentagon said.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama canceled NPOESS in early 2010 due to mounting cost overruns and technical problems and directed the Air Force and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to pursue separate systems. NOAA is proceeding with the Joint Polar Satellite System, while the Air Force is studying alternatives for its new system. 

Officially, the NPOESS contract was terminated April 12, 2012, but the Pentagon said the newly announced contract change would help provide a more accurate value of the work completed. The change “will ensure that both parties receive fair and equitable treatment during the termination settlement process,” the Pentagon notice said.

Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...