NASA Taking Over Command Of Four NOAA Satellites
April 19, 2012

NASA Taking Over Command Of Four NOAA Satellites

A Senate subcommittee has approved a bill that would see four satellites being moved from the responsibility of the National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) to NASA.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the subcommittee chairwoman, said in a prepared statement that these satellites are critical for weather forecasting, but the cost overruns and schedule delays in NOAA's satellite programs requires a change in management.

"It doesn´t matter what agency buys the satellites," Mikulski said. "It matters that the procurement is managed frugally and gets us data and information we need."

"Unfortunately, the Committee has lost confidence in NOAA´s ability to control procurement costs or articulate reliable funding profiles. Therefore, we have taken the unprecedented step of transferring responsibility for building our Nation´s operational weather satellites from NOAA to NASA."

Satellite cost overruns are not specific to just NOAA, but Mikulski said the move "leverages NASA's expertise in building Earth science satellites and managing satellite procurements."

“While NASA missions have also experienced cost overruns and schedule slippages, NASA has been more responsive and competent in correcting these deficiencies,” Mikulski said.

The subcommittee believes that the move would results in a $117 million government savings for the 2013 budget.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives spending panel released a fiscal year 2013 spending bill on Wednesday that proves $5 billion to the NOAA, which is $68 million more than its current budget.

"This is a very intriguing move," Eric Webster, a vice president at ITT Exelis, told ScienceInsider. "It will save money, as NASA charged overhead, and NOAA had its own costs as well."

The House bill includes full funding for the four satellites the senate subcommittee wants to see moved to NASA.