WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on June 14 asked Congress to approve a revised 2011 spending plan that would shift $90 million lawmakers approved for other agency projects to a new polar-orbiting weather satellite program.

NOAA proposes to boost spending on the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) to $471.9 million this year and pay for the increase in part by cutting spending on several of its other satellite programs, according to a copy of NOAA’s 2011 operating plan obtained by Space News.

Among the space-related cuts outlined in NOAA’s operating plan is a $17 million reduction to the agency’s $58 million budget for operating its fleet of geostationary weather satellites; a $5 million reduction the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-series program; and a $13 million cut to the Comprehensive Large Array Data Stewardship System, leaving just $5.4 million for that project.

No money would be spent in 2011 on the COSMIC-2 mission being developed with Taiwan or on the Deep Space Climate Observatory.

Until last year, NOAA had been contributing half of the funding for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Satellite System (NPOESS) that was being jointly developed with the Defense Department. The White House canceled that program and directed NOAA to pursue a civil weather satellite system, with NASA serving as the acquisition agent.

NOAA was provided with $382 million for its share of NPOESS in 2010 and requested $1.06 billion for JPSS in 2011. Congress was unable to pass any of the 12 government spending bills for 2011, and instead funded the federal government with an all-in-one spending bill that held most agencies to 2010 funding levels. As a result, NOAA was left with a $678 million shortfall that it says has already delayed the launch of the first JPSS spacecraft by at least a year.



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