The United Launch Alliance has been awarded by NASA with a contract to launch the second part of the series on the next-generation polar-orbiting weather satellites. The awarding of the contract happened on March 3.
However, the new contract has some concerns. The said contract for the launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System or the JPSS 2 satellite comes from the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that operated weather satellite, has the threat to be cut under the President Trump's administration, according to Space News.
The contract covers up to the mid-2021 launch of the JPSS-2 satellite on an Atlas 5 401 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The contract has the value of $170.6 million that covers the launch itself and other mission-related costs.
Thus, NASA did not acknowledge if the agency received other bids for the launch. The ULA said in a statement that it won the award from "from a competitive Launch Service Task Order evaluation" under the NASA Launch Services contract with the agency.
The JPSS-2 is the second among the series of the new polar-orbiting weather satellites and is the first to be created by the Orbital ATK under the contract that it had won last March 2015. The contract also includes two additional satellites.
The first JPSS satellite was built by Ball Aerospace is scheduled for launch this coming September on a Delta 2. The ULA got the contract worth $412 million July 2012 that cover the JPSS-1 launch and the other Delta 2 missions.
Meanwhile, the JPSS-2 launch contract was given the same day that the Trump administration is looking for the option of cutting the budget of the NOAA, the said agency funds the JPSS and other weather satellite programs. According to Space, the administration is proposing a 17 percent cut back in the overall budget from the NOAA.