The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking $1.03 billion for space programs in 2007, nearly 28 percent of the agency’s overall request of $3.68 billion .

NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, noted in a Feb. 7 news release that ensuring continuity of the agency’s satellite operations is a key part of helping to “protect lives and livelihoods.”

The largest item in the budget request is $337.8 million for the next generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites, $21 million more than the current budget for the program.

NOAA and the U.S. Air Force jointly fund the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, a program that has encountered significant cost growth. As a result, the Pentagon began a review in January that could lead to a major restructuring or cancellation of the program.

The budget request also includes $89.9 million for the current generation of NOAA’s polar-orbiting fleet of satellite, a reduction of $11.4 million compared to the current budget. That money is intended to be used for rebuilding and launching a satellite that was dropped in the factory of Lockheed Martin Corp., the prime contractor on the effort.

Another major item in NOAA’s satellite request for 2007 is the next generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), know as GOES-R. NOAA is requesting $332.4 million for the GOES-R series, an increase of $113.1 million over the current budget.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center, of Palo Alto, Calif.; Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., of Broomfield, Colo.,; and ITT Industries Space Systems, of Fort Wayne, Ind., each recently won $2 million study contracts for the GOES-R light ning mapping instrument.

The agency is also requesting $107.2 million for the current generation of GOES satellites, known as GOES-N, a decrease of $8.2 million over the current budget for that work.