Thursday, September 13, 2007

NPOESS Program Restructured

The Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced recently that they have restructured the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). This $4.2 billion modification of the Northrop Grumman Space Technology contract culminates a rigorous year long effort to re-plan virtually every aspect of the NPOESS program following its certification through the Nunn McCurdy process in 2006. The plan details the development and delivery of the system through initial production in the next decade.

This extensive re-planning was a joint effort between the three agencies, which comprise the NPOESS Integrated Program Office and Northrop Grumman Space Technology. The schedule delivers sensors to the NPOESS Preparatory Project to support a 2009 launch, and calls for the launch of the first NPOESS satellite in 2013.

The restructured contract puts in place a "back to basics" approach with management controls and reporting requirements which will ensure strict oversight of the contractor. The fee structure is now more objective through the inclusion of incentives for cost, schedule and technical performance.

"This is the most extensive and rigorous planning process I have ever witnessed," said Gary Davis, the Program Executive Officer for Environmental Satellites. "This restructured program will provide the meteorological community with the exceptional performance that they require to maintain the quality forecasting capability that the American public has come to expect."

NPOESS maintains the capability to restore sensors that were removed during the Nunn-McCurdy process, through sponsorship and cooperative agreements. The program has also been restructured to allow sufficient time for integration of the de-manifested sensors.