Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warned U.S. lawmakers April 13 that the 2011 budget they will vote on this week would delay by two years the launch of the first satellite in the Joint Polar Satellite System, JPSS-1, reports Science Insider. This would create a lengthy gap in crucial polar satellite coverage, she said, harming daily weather forecasting, search-and-rescue operations and long-term weather prediction.
The proposed cuts to NOAA’s budget — $4.5 billion under the bill, which is $1 billion less than President Barack Obama requested — would push back the JPSS-1 launch from 2016 to 2018, Lubchenco said. The NPOESS Preparatory Project, which would gather data similar to those gathered by JPSS-1, is slated to launch in October, but according to its design life it will not function after 2017. That means the JPSS-1 delay would leave an 18-month gap in key polar satellite data, Lubchenco said.