American scientific agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is looking at options for a cut to a program for future polar weather satellites. The agency still received a full funding for its ongoing weather satellite programs.
According to an article published in Space News, the omnibus bill for the fiscal year 2017, which was signed into law last May 5, provides NOAA weather satellite programs with $1.979 billion. This is $84 million less than originally requested.
The bill also fully funds the NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) and Joint Polar Satellite Systems (JPSS) programs. In total, the programs are worth for a combined total of $1.54 billion.
"The [fiscal year] '17 omnibus budget was generally good for NOAA," Steve Volz said in his presentation at the Space Studies Board of the National Academies. Volz also serves as an assistant administrator for NOAA Satellite and Information Services.
According to the article published in 15 Minutes News, the NOAA that received the biggest cut in terms of dollars was the Polar Follow-On program. It is intended to support work on incoming JPSS satellites after the first two.
The omnibus bill has cut $64 million from the NOAA's program. This is a 16 percent reduction from the original request for the program. The program has also been targeted for undefined cuts in the Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint.
Our challenge on that one is going to be what does that mean for the risk posture for the observing system," Voltz said. He also added that those plans to effectively stretch out the schedule for the third and fourth JPSS satellites present risk issues for NOAA, which would raise the odds of a data gap if an existing satellite fails.
"We have to quantify the risk of that implementation plan and see if there are ways to mitigate that risk in different ways," he said. Volz said that NOAA could turn some alternative sources of data like commercial and international partners.