A weather satellite program has been taken off from Government Accountability Office’s “high risk list” that is being monitored which has heightened concerns about NASA’s acquisition management procedures. During a testimony before Senate Homeland Security and GAO committee the latter had announced that it was taking issue of “clearing gaps in weather satellite data” off from its list of 35high risk topics across federal govt activities that were being monitored by it. In its report it credit work being done by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DoD to take necessary steps for mitigation of data gaps from weather satellites orbiting in the polar regions.
It concluded that these two agencies have made sufficient progress in establishment and implementation of plans to mitigate gaps in data from weather satellites. Launch of the long delayed Joint Polar Satellite System spacecraft which is now called NOAA-20 was a major development for the NOAA which occurred in 2017. This launch eased all concerns about potential gaps in study of polar satellite weather data. The Microwave spacecraft is helping the DoD address its weather data gap which is a Weather System follow on. The contract for launch of this satellite which is scheduled for 2022 has been awarded to Ball Aerospace by Air Force.
Ongoing discussions between AirForce and NOAA are happening for moving one of the latter’s geostationary weather satellite on Indian Ocean to fill an existing gap in DoD’s needs. Most of the existing concerns about weather gap occurred due to failure of National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program that tried to combine activities of both NOAA and DoD’s polar orbiting weather satellite programs. GAO stated that NASA lack of transparency and failure to provide information on cost and performance of major programs is due to lack of leadership commitment and efficient monitoring.