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Stopgap Spending Bill Carves out Exception for U.S. Weather Satellites

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers’ bill makes no explicit mention of NASA, but it bill does mention two satellite programs NASA is managing on NOAA’s behalf: GOES and JPSS (above). Credit: Ball artist's concept

WASHINGTON — The stopgap spending measure the U.S. House of Representatives had been expected to pass this week to keep federal agencies operating past the end of the month would hold NASA’s budget flat through year’s end but allow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fund two weather satellites programs above 2013 levels.

The so-called continuing resolution, or CR, that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) introduced Sept. 10 would keep the federal government funded at $986 billion through Dec. 15. That is about $2 billion below the U.S. government’s budget for fiscal year 2013, which ends Sept. 30. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Rogers counterpart in the Senate, told Capitol Hill reporters she would prefer a shorter CR, one that runs through Nov. 28, which is Thanksgiving in the United States.

Rogers’ bill makes no explicit mention of NASA, which ended up with $16.86 billion this year, according to the 2013 operating plan the agency released at the end of August. However, the bill does mention two satellite programs NASA is managing on NOAA’s behalf: the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite System (GOES) and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).

Rogers’ bill allows NOAA to shift money around within its procurement account in order to keep both programs on track for launch. 

GOES-R, the first of four GOES satellites Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems is currently building under contract to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., is slated to launch in 2015. JPSS-1, which is being built by Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., under contract to Goddard, is slated to launch in 2017.

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