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New GAO Reports – Geostationary Weather Satellites, NOAA Polar Weather Satellites

  • Geostationary Weather Satellites: Launch Date Nears, but Remaining Schedule Risks Need to be Addressed, GAO-15-60: Published: Dec 16, 2014. Publicly Released: Jan 15, 2015: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) program has made major progress in developing its first satellite, including completing testing of satellite instruments. However, the program continues to face challenges in the areas of schedule, cost, and functionality. Specifically, the program has continued to experience delays in major milestones and cost overruns on key components. Also, in order to meet the planned launch date, the program has deferred some planned functionality until after launch, and program officials acknowledge that they may defer more.”
  • Polar Weather Satellites: NOAA Needs To Prepare for Near-term Data Gaps, GAO-15-47: Published: Dec 16, 2014. Publicly Released: Jan 15, 2015: “The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program has recently completed significant development activities and remains within its cost and schedule baselines; however, recent cost growth on key components is likely unsustainable and risks remain that could increase the potential for near-term satellite data gaps. For example, technical issues experienced while developing a key instrument have led to a very tight schedule. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working to mitigate such risks, but is not tracking actual completion dates for its risk mitigation activities. In addition, while the program has reduced its estimate for a near-term satellite data gap in the afternoon orbit to only 3 months, its gap assessment was based on incomplete data (such as the increasing threat from space debris) and the agency has not updated its assessment to address these limitations. As shown below, a gap in satellite data may occur earlier and last longer than NOAA anticipates.”

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