Lawmakers at Odds Over Polar Satellite System Overhaul

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

A section of a bill passed last night by the House of Representatives expresses support for President Barack Obama's plan to restructure the bloated environmental satellite system known as NPOESS into two sister satellite programs run independently by civilian and military officials. That puts NASA's authorizers—who supposedly set policy and lay out how the executive branch can spend money—at odds with Senate appropriators, who earlier this month called for the Defense Weather Satellite System, the new Pentagon program, to be defunded.

I write "supposedly" since often the appropriators, who actually hold the purse strings, can "authorize" programs by funding them, and agencies tend to listen closely to them since they hold power over their budgets. It won't be until the expected mega-spending bill known as the Omnibus passes—some time after the November elections—that the fate of the two programs will be clear.

Posted in Funding, Space