WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to request smaller than expected budgets for its next-generation geostationary weather satellites from 2011 to 2014, including $118 million less for 2011 than it anticipated requesting at this time last year, NOAA draft budget documents for 2011 show.

The agency had planned as recently as May to request $848 million for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R series for 2011. That amount has since been  reduced to $730 million, according to the NOAA budget documents obtained by Space News. The funding profile from 2011 to 2014 is $265.2 million less than the agency indicated in the 2010 budget request it sent to Congress in May.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver was awarded the GOES-R prime contract in December 2008, but work was held up by two protests by losing bidder Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of Seal Beach, Calif. Boeing dropped its second protest in July, and Lockheed Martin is still in the process of getting its GOES-R team back together, Greg Mandt, NOAA’s GOES-R program manager, said in a Sept. 10 interview.

Mandt would not discuss NOAA’s internal budget deliberations, but said all of the GOES-R instruments are progressing on schedule and the first satellite should still launch in 2015. The seven-month delay caused by the bid protest will result in about $65 million appropriated for the program for 2009 not being spent by year’s end. Mandt, however, said the agency has up to three years to spend that money.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA’s parent organization, has declined to seek funding for several new program starts that NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service requested for 2011.

For example, NOAA had sought $9.5 million to refurbish a shelved NASA satellite originally known as Triana and launch it to collect solar wind measurements.

NOAA had also sought $3.7 million to collaborate with
on a follow-on to the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate mission.