Weather Satellite System Criticized in Review

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

Backup plans are inadequate for a key satellite system run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which issued a critical report today. The GOES-R craft will take the place of the existing series of similar crafts providing weather and environmental data while hovering in geostationary orbit over North America. But GAO says that NOAA hasn't set up sufficient contingency procedures so as to cover possible failures of the three satellites that will be in orbit before the expected 2015 launch of GOES-R.

A review by GAO last year found the system to be a year behind schedule and to have cut its capabilities from 81 separate data products to 34. Originally budgeted for $7 billion, said GAO, the system now faces a 10% cost overrun.

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