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tv   Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Remark on U.S.- Australia...  CSPAN  January 22, 2016 12:02pm-12:48pm EST

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u.s. commercial providers for satellite data do you intend to bring under contract in the next three to five years? >> that's a very open-ended question. depends on resources, depends on how many actually apply for a particular -- if we go out with an rfp -- >> how many do you need to bring under? how many do you want to bring under? >> i'm more concerned with getting a data flow, to getting the operational data i need. if we go through with an approach, a pilot approach, and we find one vendor that has the quality set of information we need, that we can use that is meeting other criteria, and that is financially viable, that's a satisfactory result for me. if i get three or four competing and they're all providing something i can afford to support several because i need the data from several, i can support that as well subject to availability of funds and the cost points on these vendors. >> okay. has noaa done a cost benefit analysis of gap mitigation alternatives to determine which ones are likely to be the most
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effective and worthy of investment? >> when we went through the gap analysis and the exercises in 2011, '12 and '13, we had a report called the riverside report, i imagine you've already read, which identified a number of mitigation approaches to lessen the impact of loss of a major asset. we selected a number of those to complete. we did not do -- and have been executing on those mitigation approaches. we did not do an allocation of one through n to say which is the most effective but we saw they applied to different areas of the observing system and we applied those that are possible to impact and in effect have been working on those. >> why do you not see the need to do the mitigation to look at the most effective? >> well, i would say that we did that, i wouldn't say -- it is hard to do an assessment of a particular measurement, what's the benefit of that, to an
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integrated mold that relies on multiple analysis. i would say probably the difficulty of doing a cost-benefit process when the output is the value of a weather product, which three to five day, three to seven day forecast, it's very hard to quantify the value of that from a cost approach. we do look at the efficacy of the approaches. is it a necessary part to address a particular measurement capability and we didn't prioritize, we put our efforts and attempts into working on those more importantly. >> sure. as a general aviation pilot myself, i can tell you that the accuracy of that data and the ability to look out and get those accurate forecasts, both near term and long term, are important. have any studies been performed on the cost benefits and tradeoffs between different potential launch dates for the later satellite such as
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g.o.e.s.-u or gpss, jpss-4? >> yes, sir, and that brings up the excellent point that was brought up earlier. what can we do in the latter years, once we get to a robust state, which is established by getting those launched, do we have to launch t and u on a rapid timeframe? the answer is probably not. we would launch on need at some point when we get to that. so we have looked at two comparisons here. one is the cost of storage. if we build and then store. and the other is the cost impacts of delaying the development. and we have the assessments, and based on industry assessments and industry models of the efficiency of building four in a rapid sequence is more effective in terms of buying the parts and getting the workforce engaged and the buying down risk of the implementation, than building one, waiting a year, building a second and then waiting a third. we have seen examples of the efficiency of build first launch later if necessary has a certain cost benefit from the build and development cycle.
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and a significant risk benefit because you buy down the risk by building them all at the same time when you have the parts and the availability and the engineering. >> okay. all right. earlier this year your office hosted a community engagement workshop to inform outside groups and the commercial sector of progress. noaa has made in incorporating commercial technologies and this week you hosted such another event. what updates occurred between the previous workshop held in april and the one this week, what did you learn? >> in the april workshop we talked about the principles and the engagement of desires, what we would like to do in the future. in the workshop this week, we spent a great deal of time talking about the actual process by which we would use data, how data are used from observation to services and products so that we were very clear, very articulate, in trying to explain and discern how the data was used in our systems and how different vendors can tailor
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their business models to deliver data to us at different places in our value chain. >> okay. are you talking individual companies as well to get a broader perspective? >> we have gone out asking for inputs on particular measurement types. we've gone out with next generation technology approaches that they think are worthy of investment or ready for application, ready for primetime as operational. we have not, in terms of the overall engagement, we have talked on a one-on-one basis. i have not but some of my staff has on where they are keeping us informed on where they are in the development cycle and where we are in the process cycle. in general, i'm trying to talk to them all at once to have the workshops on a regular basis. so everybody can see where we are as we move forward. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i now recognize the weather guru from california, mr. perlmutter. i warn the witnesses -- >> colorado.
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>> colorado. from colorado. i would warn the witnesses that his jacket is off and his sleeves are rolled up. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thanks for holding this committee hearing. and to you two gentlemen, thank you for being here again. these are very important assets of the united states. as mr. loudermilk said, dealing with life, limb and property as well as science. and, you know, i think i mentioned the last time you were here, i've been working on this since 2009 and 2010 with n-post. and what i would like to do is sort of go back to basics and understand the structure, the decision-making structure here. so i come from a construction family. and if -- with respect to jpss and the go systems, am i correct when i look at it as noaa is the owner, nasa is sort of the
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general contractor, and then the private companies, the lockheeds, the balls, the orbital atks are in effect the subcontractors. is that a fair way to describe this? and this is to both of you. dr. volz. >> yes, but noaa is the owner but also the architect. so the architect doesn't just give the plans and walk away. the architect is there with the general contractor and is there when the general contractor sometimes is talking to his subcontractors, to make sure that what he had in mind in the architecture is what is being implemented. so that's the role noaa plays. we do not have the engineering depth nasa has. we rely on that depth. but we're there with the requirements, with the user community interfaces so we know what the end use is of every one of these observations, which allows us to work hand and glove with nasa and the major contractors to make sure that end use is kept in mind as you go through the whole development process.
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>> i would just add that the contracting situation with the spacecraft, each sensor and the ground component, they all have prime contractors and subs. so you have many contractors and subcontractors involved with each of the many components. >> the reason i'm asking that question is because, whether it was n pose or now goes and jpss, there is a little separation between noaa as the owner architect, if you will, and the general contractor, nasa. before it was noaa and the air force. and we've had, i mean, obviously we wouldn't be here if we weren't having some delays and some hiccups in how these things are proceeding. and sometimes i feel like noaa, you know, gets hammered when, in fact, it's been the air force or nasa that has caused some of the hiccups. and they're not sitting here today.
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am i mistaken in that at all? >> the -- i think we can go too far with the analogy between n pose and where we are now. i believe in n pose days there was a greater separation between the different owners and executors of the program, which led to some of the disconnect, some of the problems. the requirements flowed down to implementation was much more complex under n pose than it is now. i believe with the nasa/noaa relationship and the contractor relationship we have with nasa/noaa we have much better connectivity across that line. there are leads and follows but it's much better than it has been in the past. >> let me tell you where i'm going because i'll run out of time. as a coloradoan, we were disappointed when ball didn't get the follow-ones in the jpss program. nasa was the acquisition point person or point agency and obviously the contractor there.
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what i'm concerned about is just, a mr. powdner was saying, the navy has a very good system of building submarines. they do have an assembly line approach. and given the fact that we have had these delays, dr. volz to you but also to mr. powner, shouldn't we try to be doing something with these satellites so you can get them done in a way that's timely, that's well tested? am i making a mistake here? >> no. i think you have a perfect example between g.o.e.s. and jpss. if you are building a series or fleet, it does make sense to define the requirements once and do the implementation once. that's where we are now and how we set it up with the g.o.e.s. program. you still have problems, that's why we're here. we are still discussing the issues with the g.o.e.s. program but we hope to overcome them.
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with the jpss program, we did not have that same construct. we were building them one at a time and there were definitely significant inefficiencies in doing it that way. whether it's an intentional change in a major subcontract like the spacecraft from ball aerospace to ltk or to the production lines changing and the capabilities that the subcontractors change out and you can't control it. so by going with the one at a time approach, you are definitely setting yourself up for that risk and approach. that's one of the reasons this pfo, the follow-on to jpss, is intended to happen at once, will minimize the risk of implementation. i'll let david answer too. >> we have had a lot of delays on these programs. i don't know why you would add more risk, that was our point on j-2. especially when we sat down on g.o.e.s. and the delays and we said, okay, what's going to be different with your schedule performance? and they said, we learned a lot. and second, we'll be a lot better at it.
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well, don't you think that logic probably applies to j2? there's a lot of issues on j1. work arounds with subcontractors and the whole bit.dq)óz ball aerospace can lay out all those things. a new contractor doesn't have all the history going for it, so we think there's risk with that shift and we're looking for more continuity where we get an assembly line here. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> i would like to thank the man from colorado. i recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. bavin. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, witnesses. dr. volz, if the government has weather or climate missions that you can catch a ride on the commercial satellite to benefit of all parties, it would seem to be a cost effective and sustainable option. has noaa taken advantage of the
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hosted payload options for weather or climate missions? if so, why or why not? >> you're correct. if we can find a ride, it's an appropriate -- and that meets the requirement and is appropriate and a more efficient way to do it. we are suggesting and proposing that approach for our search and rescue and adcs systems, called cdars, approach for buying space on commercial launch vehicles or commercial spacecraft, not just launch vehicles, yes. >> okay, thank you. and again, since the president's fiscal year 2016 budget requests, excuse me, transfers responsibility for developing climate instruments and climate satellites from noaa to nasa, will noaa funds that were meant to pay for such instruments and satellites stay within noaa for use in gap mitigation efforts? or will they be transferred to nasa to offset the cost of their development? and what effect will this have on nasa's budget?
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please providing the committee with a funding breakout of how this arrangement would look. >> i would be happy to. looking at the transition from things from noaa to nasa, there were no funds transferred from noaa to nasa. there were no funds allocated. we were underfunded on the noaa side. it was a prioritization question. the concern was they would have been left off the table entirely because they weren't funded from the noaa side. it was both a question of focus and letting nasa do the climate but also the inability on our side to support those programs at the -- because we had to support the primary weather mission, that was our focus. >> okay. then mr. powner, you seem to have major concerns about noaa's transparency and openness with congress. what are the key issues that drive your concerns here?
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>> we had a hearing in february on these two programs and then what happened was the life span extension occurred in april. the flyout charts changed in april. and we think if a major concern occurs like that, this committee should be informed. that's one example. another example is i think the scheduled performance could have been disclosed much more directly and openly to this committee when we had that hearing in february. >> absolutely. mr. volz, would you like to comment on that? >> sure. on the first one, the flyout chart change, that's on me. as i came in from nasa, i remember looking at the flyout charts over the years and trying to understand, you know, what the logic was in those. and i brought in with my experience, there are different analyses, different approaches to assessing the extended life since i had done that many years at nasa that would be applicable i thought to these systems and these programs. that's what i asked for. i probably was -- i was not -- it was my error not knowing how sensitive it was, how important
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it was that we communicate those. so as i said, we will make that a regular thing in the future. on the other question, which i'm drawing a blank, what was the second one? on the schedule performance, that's a fair point. and to the degree that we're not communicating well quantifying the risk that we see in the executing of these programs, we need to do better with that. we work regularly with our quarterly briefings, with the committee. to the degree that those are not communicating appropriately, i'm happy to fine a better way do that to improve communication. >> okay. and once again, mr. powner, one of noaa's challenges is it needs to obtain more and better weather data with less money. one way to do that is buy data from the commercial sector instead of trying to launch satellites by themselves. but noaa's satellite division has been delegated the authority granted by congress to the secretary of commerce to regulate these new commercial providers, and they're having trouble granting licenses on a timely basis. isn't it a conflict of interest
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for a bureaucracy to regulate the industry that is competing with its traditional satellite programs? and should the authority to regulate and promote this new innovative and money-saving industry be moved to the office of the undersecretary for oceans and atmospheres instead of being buried inside nsds? >> yeah that's -- in terms of -- i think the key point here is this. we need robust constellations for both g.o.e.s. and jpss. we'll always have noaa own and operate these big programs. that's not going to go away, but we need to supplement these consellations with commercial data to ensure that we have a robust constellation. so i think where everyone wants to go with the use of commercial products and the like, we need to look strongly at that to build the most robust constellation. that's what is most important for the american taxpayer in this country. >> absolutely. okay. thank you. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman yields back.
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now i recognize the gentleman from florida, mr. posey, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. volz, in your opinion, how likely is g.o.e.s. to meet its launch date of october 2016? >> i think our current performance and the schedule execution is strong. and i think we have margin against our august delivery date to the launch site. the poor performance that was mentioned by mr. powner in two years leading up to the thermal vacuum test in july and august is real. and following that, when we reestablished this schedule for october's launch date, we provided a new schedule approach for lockheed martin and for nasa and noaa to work together. since that october/november period, as opposed to ten days a month of reserve being used up they are ahead of schedule. so the way we have rephrased the schedule and refrained it with reserve appropriately has been working and the program is working on schedule since that time. in the face of problems and issues that we typically see in
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integration and tests. i'm reasonably confident that we will meet the october launch date. >> okay. thank you. mr. powner, do you see that the same way? >> well, we are aware of failed transistor parts that affect battery operation, and the like. i think that's a key risk going that's been a key risk going forward that we have heard that october launch date possibly could be at risk. that's a key issue. i don't know where we are at on that right now but that's something we're watching. we're still cautiously optimistic on the launch dates going forward. because we have heard indications there are risks to the october '16 date. >> you partially answered my next question for dr. volz, which is what do you see as the biggest factors that could cause another launch delay? >> we are -- we still have mechanical and environmental testing ahead of us. and the likely factors on the g.o.e.s.-r spacecraft, since it has been integrated and the transistor failure has been corrected and the pieces are back at
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integration. it's the nature of similar things like that happening over which that could be a bigger problem that takes time to resolve, a parts problem, a mechanical problem during tests, those are still ahead of us. until we get through the mechanical testing, vibration testing and acoustic testing, those are major tests to complete. the ground system is solid. the radar and antennas are ready for receipt. the user community is prepared. it's getting through last eight months for environmental to launch which is always a challenge but that i see as a systemic challenge for the program right now. >> okay, thank you. what are some of the potential impacts of a delay g.o.e.s.-r launch, will it increase the life cycle cost? >> it will not increase the life cycle -- well, depends on the type. if we have a major issue, within the expected range of delay here or there with the operations we have to do, we are operating within the life cycle budget within the annual budget. so i do not expect, based on what we see now that we'll have, we need additional funding for
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the g.o.e.s.-r program. >> what is the current estimated time during which g.o.e.s. constellation will not have a backup satellite available? >> that's a good segue into what is the -- i don't predict we'll have any point that we won't have a backup satellite available, based on our estimation in the current life expectation of the satellites. however, we are all only one failure away from losing a satellite. that can always happen. so between now and the launch of g.o.e.s.-r, our estimation is the satellites we have on orbit are functioning, aging and healthy, as i said in my introduction. and i do not expect we'll have a gap. however, if we do, if we lose one of our assets, we do have a backup in space. if we lose that backup, we are reese you can to two satellites, we have anticipated this possibility and worked cooperatively with our international partners so they could loan us a satellite in the dire circumstances we have two
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major system failures. we have worked this out over the past. >> and i was going to ask if it's ever happened in the past. >> it has in the past occurred that we have had to borrow some assets from our foreign partners. and we have contributed assets of the same as the global constellation of geostationary satellites have -- the partnership sharing agreements we have had have been successful and exercised two or three times in the past. >> we had a hearing earlier and heard testimony about the sunburst that crossed our orbit last year that we missed by about one week. that would have virtually, some experts say, knocked out every commercial satellite. how would that have affected yours? >> i don't know the magnitude of that particular solar event that might have hit us. our satellites are hardened for what we understand what the normal environment is, if normal means some deviation from the normal environment. a major solar storm would have an impact on all our satellites.
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major is hard to determine when exactly what it is. we are as vulnerable as some other satellites to major solar flare events and do what we can to harden it. we may be more hardened than the commercial ones, but it is still a significant event would have an impact on us. >> mr. powner, do you want to comment? >> i have nothing further to add on that. >> i'm concerned about what we do to harden these, how much they can be hardened. if there's any cost that's prohibitive in doing that. i just don't think that congress, quite frankly, or the public communications industry has taken it serious enough. we had experts come in here and tell us basically it would change the world as we have known it. they say the impact would be in the trillions and they talked
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multiple trillions but they wouldn't dare attempt to quantify it. but we seem to be doing so little about hardening these for -- the solar eruption is what they called it, or emps, they dismissed that as well. before somebody would use an emp against us, there would have to be bigger problems, which is not true. so -- is there a plan that contains noaa's ongoing strategies to mitigate a satellite data gap? >> yes, sir, there is. and it's been exercised for the last several years for our program. and that is the benefit -- the point of getting jpss one and two and the pfo under contract to get to a situation. directly to your point, where we have a spare, a hot spare on orbit for our polar energy and stationary satellites, and in the event of a significant event, we are thinking about a meteorite but it could be a solar flare, we could redeploy
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an equivalently capable asset within a year. that's the objective. that's one way rather than trying to harden the satellite under an unknown event is to have a replacement satellite available. when you look at the g.o.e.s.-t and u available, we won't necessarily launch them to have in orbit but they could be sitting on the ground in the case of that as a replenishment when we have a failure. our programs do support getting to the robust state but we are not there yet. >> that's a great plan. but if we had an impact, the consequence of the one, the scientists told us last year, it's very possible there would be an electronic grid, would not be an electronic grid to enable you to send up the replacement within a year? >> fair enough. the magnitude of the event -- there are events of the size that we can't model for or plan for. but we are planning for the loss of satellite assets, something that may only affect satellites and not the whole ground infrastructure.
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>> thank you for your indulgence on that. i yield back. >> you bet. >> mr. powner, i saw you indicating that you have a comment when he mentioned that the g.o.e.s.-r delay could have an impact on life cycle costs. did you want to say something about that? >> well, life cycle costs, there are reserves. you have an overall life cycle. any delay there's going to impact on cost. the last delay there was an impact on cost. so i want to be clear on that. any delay we further have will impact the cost and there will be an impact on the potential increase in the potential gap and backup capability. >> that's important for those of us on the committee to understand. i now recognize the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to thank the witnesses. mr. powner, you mentioned noaa needs a clear policy on what an analysis should drive the satellite life spans. can you expand on that? >> so some background here, if
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you look at what dod does, they actually have very robust analysis on the reliability of the operational satellites. to noaa's credit on jpss, they do a pretty nice assessment on the availability and reliability. we don't see it on g.o.e.s. but even so, they need to be real clear on what their policy is on how they determine the life span. so, for instance, i've been doing this a long time looking at n pose for this committee even prior to the dates that congressman perlmutter made. on the polar constellation, we always thought the policy was you have a backup on the ground. and now i'm hearing a backup in orbit. we just need to be clear on what our policy is on ensuring a robust constellation. and noaa is not always clear. they are not always clear. and we need to get that clarity so that we have a robust constellation.
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>> let me ask you this, how can noaa determine that appropriations have been made on implementing gap mitigation activities? mr. powner? >> we looked at this with our last review when we testified in february. there's a lot of good work on mitigation activities. and i do think there are some mitigating factors that yield greater benefits. we have heard like aircraft observation, some of the adjustments to the models and the like. and noaa is working on those things. so a lot of that is being worked on now and that goes back to the comments and questions earlier on the recommendations. we want to see some of those mitigation activities rounded out even further so that if, in fact, we have gaps leading up to march 2017, that we have some of the backup capabilities. >> and in that regard, and dr. volz, you may want to come back to mr. posey's questions there at the end about having -- whether you have a satellite
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backup system in orbit or if you have backup systems on the ground, do you have backup launch capabilities? because if you do have a massive solar event or some other emp type of event, would you have the capability to launch more satellites? >> we rely on the launch services provided through the national assets, the same launch service that provided the support to the defense department, nasa, noaa, we all use the same commercial launch providers. in the event of a loss of a catastrophic loss of a significant asset, we also have the capability to prioritize our mission over others, i believe. >> so what i'm asking is, maybe you cannot answer this if you are relying on other agencies and other parts of the government for the launch capability, but it's not just losing the asset in space, it's -- if you had a catastrophic event like an emp where your
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ground systems are eliminated, do you have backup systems or you may not be able to answer this, are there backup systems that could launch, that have been hardened, that we could get in place to get something back in orbit? >> and i'm not the right person to ask about what the launch backup capabilities are for the nation. >> mr. powner, back to you. for jpss, your report from earlier this year that focused on the potential gap in the 2016/2017 timeframe. are there similar concerns of a gap between the first and second jpss satellites in early 2020s? >> the first and second satellite, we are not so concerned about a gap between the first and the second, assuming we hit the march date and jpss-2 stays on board. the issue with the gap between the mpp and j-1, if you didn't have the recent four-year
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extension on the life span, there would be a gap. so the key here is we hope that mpp continues to function well and we hope that j-1 does launch on march 2017, so that we don't have a gap between mpp and j-1. that's still a concern of ours. that's still a concern. until we launch j-1, we're concerned about a gap. >> if i may, sir, i have almost the exact opposite assessment. based on watching the mpp event, based on our analysis, understanding and based on the mitigations we have taken and the executions in the operations, i have a stronger confidence now that the satellite barring a meteorite or some other activity, is likely to function for a great many of years, because i have seen the satellites do that over time. i think the uncertainty in launch and of the gap between j-1 and j-2 is because we have not launched j-1 yet is a larger probability than something i'm more concerned about going forward.
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but we're talking about probabilities and risks and we have to address all of these. so i don't think that once j-1 is launched our risk of a gap is necessarily gone away. we still have to worry about getting j-2 developed and delivered on orbit as quickly as we can. >> one thing if i can add, i do think mpp overall is functioning well. it is not perfect. you can read their own availability analysis and there are questions about atms lasting beyond the five-year life, not a nine-year life, so there's watch items there. and we need to continue to watch that. so i don't want -- we need to be real clear there are still risks within mpp. >> mr. chairman, i see my time has expired. >> i thank the gentleman from alabama. we're going to go into a second round of questions and i recognize myself for five minutes. i wanted to share with you guys some of the challenges i see going forward as it relates to the commercial data by the president's budget request that is due to this congress in february.
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we'll do a budget process in march. then we start doing authorizations along this way and appropriations even before, or i should say after. what i would be interested in is what that number might be. and i know you probably don't have that number for a line-item for a commercial data buy. i want to be clear that we're expecting that. and i would like to, if you're able to provide that to us even before february, that would be very valuable, as we go through the authorizations and the appropriations processes. so just -- you're under no obligation to give us anything until the president's budget request, i understand that, but if you can help, we want to be helpful as well. so that would be good. on the commercial space policy that came out on september 1st, it's been opened for comments. the comment period closed october 1st. there have been 15 comments. do you have a timeline when the final policy might be released?
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>> yes, sir. and -- we have 15 respondents. and when we look through the responses, we came up on the order of 90 different actionable comments that we think should be attributed or addressed in some way or the other. noaa has set up a team and has a team to review those and adjudicate those. i'm expecting, and have been told by the management within noaa, that we expect the revised policy to be coming out within a few weeks, within the coming weeks. >> oh, that's great. >> and in the meantime, we have been working the process. the workshop monday was addressing that, and we would like to follow-up with a draft for comments a few weeks after the release of the formal policy. >> so after the release of the formal policy there will be more comments? >> no, a draft release of the nsda process, which is the next level of detail within the industry. >> got it. and you can expect that, we can expect that a couple weeks after -- >> after the release of the noaa policy.
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>> fantastic. so we are talking about january, february? >> yes. >> okay. fantastic. let's see, i want to go through a couple of comments that are -- i should say, statements that were made regarding the space policy. and i want to get a reaction from you on it. one statement is that, and i'll just read it, in its entirety, the latest iteration of noaa's policy fails to makes a distinction between raw satellite data that would be ingested into noaa's operational weather models which is the intended focus of this policy versus the output of those models and derived data products. it is the full free and open access to model output derived data products and current ground conditions that underpins the robust u.s. commercial weather sector. do you agree there's a difference between the output and the raw data, the satellite data coming down from the satellites? >> let me predicate this with saying i'm not an expert which
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talks about the essential versus nonessential data sets. and they address mostly the issue of the data. there is a difference between input and output products for certain. no question about that. so the -- the simple answer to your question is, yes, there's a difference between those. and i don't know that the policy was meaning to address the output products, the output services, as they are free and open to all. but it is focused on, from my perspective in using commercial data in our operations, is how we deal with the data we receive from the vendors, which is the input data you refer to. >> so going back to your mention of wm-40, there's another statement that says, wmo-40 resolutions 40 and 25 explicitly permit private sector companies to restrict the redistribution of their data. and allow those same member countries flexibility and discretion in determining which data sets are freely exchange and under which conditions they choose to do so. so it looks to me under wmo-40
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private industry that is providing data to augment the numerical weather models that data should be protected. would you like to make a comment on that? >> probably not. i am not -- i'm not a wmo-40 expert and don't know the nuances of it. certainly -- i probably should let it go at that. we would be happy to have a separate conversation with wmo-40. >> i would like to get these kind of resolutions in this final space policy coming from noaa, commercial space policy, and i know it's going to be in a couple weeks, but these are the kind of things that absolutely must be definitively determined before -- if we're going to have a robust commercial segment that can augment our numerical weather models and save money for the taxpayers. that's my concern. more data, better data, and cost savings to the taxpayer. and i think we can do that but we've got to be really clear about what is required here.
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i've got about -- well, i'm out of time. so i'm going to stop now and recognize the gentleman from virginia, mr. beyer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. volz, he talked about the delivery of the atms advanced technology and microwave sounder has been delayed. but in the last quarterly update this committee received, noaa said it had to be delivered in the end of november to maintain jpss-1 launch date. but your testimony now, you can say that you maintain that launch date despite the fact that the mts won't be delivered until december. can you explain the conflict? >> the atms delivery date, the plan we established in the summer was no later than the end of november to support the plan going forward to a december 2016 launch date, correct. the atms has slipped and now late december/early january.
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we have had to look into what we have had to take time out of reserve, schedule reserve. the late november date was planned for and did not encumber any of the reserve schedule, reserve left in the schedule beyond november. we have had to take it, had to debit against those reserves to accommodate the late delivery of the atms. >> so you had flexibility? >> we still had some flexibility. it was not a no reserve date for delivery. we have been using it. >> in your testament, you talked about the g.o.e.s.-r team applying all the lessons learned from the last two years to do timely and g.o.e.s.-s, t, u satellites. does the same theory of work with the gpss, because i know you're -- you have now moved to a new contractor for jpss-2. any risks because you're not building with the old contractor on what you learned doing that? >> yes. and i agree with mr. powner that going -- let me go two points.
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first, what i said is we are applying the lessons learned over the last two years in the integration test of g.o.e.s.-r to make sure the schedule we have laid out through this time next year, october of next year for the launch, includes those lessons learned. that's why we have confidence based on the last three months that we're meeting schedules. we still need to revisit what that means for the g.o.e.s.-s, t, u schedules and we are doing that right now. now, as far as changes in the contract going from one spacecraft vendor to another for the jpss, that does increase risk. that's factor. that's a risk factor now that we have added to the system that was not there before. and i agree that it does. you can't say that's not the case. whether that was -- that risk is -- where that ranks in the overall risks of different risks in the program including cost and scheduled risks is something we had to look at when we made the procurement of going through the process. it is an increase in risk, but not necessarily an increase in the overall program and execution risk as we look at the many factors when we consider program risks. >> when you made the new award, it was understanding this was a
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piece of the overall puzzle. >> correct, sir. >> mr. powner, you just said that the very attractive idea that perhaps congress could reduce this expenditure in upcoming years. can you expand on that a little? >> well, clearly when you look at the outyear satellites, the follow-on for the polar constellation and then when you get into the out-year g.o.e.s., there's a question about what's the most economical way to go forward. do you build everything as quickly as you can and get economies to scale there and perhaps store them on the ground? perhaps. do you perhaps slow down the acquisition of some of the out-year satellites? perhaps. and i think what -- and i know this committee, we have worked with both your staff and the majority staff, they are looking for analysis. and there was a comment made that congressman johnson asked a question about this, about tradeoff assessments. i'm not aware of the tradeoff assessments that satisfied your
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staff on this committee. i think they need the tradeoff assessments to make the right decisions on out-year deliveries. >> thank you. dr. volz, did you have any comments? >> i would like to respond to that. and i agree entirely that the out-year execution needs to be addressed. what we have focused our activities on the last five years as we came to the assessment of risk on both polar and geostationary satellites is that we did not have a robust configuration on orbit. our first and overriding priority was to get to a situation where we had, we were fault-tolerant, we had a single fault. we could suffer the loss of a satellite asset and not disable the weather system. and that has dictated the aggressive approach to building the g.o.e.s.-r satellites in our aggressive schedule. as we went through what could be a mission-ending failure. the same with the jpss. so that's been our primary motivation. once we get comfortable to that
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fault tolerant situation on orbit, exactly as was mentioned, we can look at what is the cadence that we need to launch. but we need to have the assets available to have the flexibility of those choices. until we have that, we cannot do anything to make it better or worse. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i want to thank the ranking member. and in closing we're -- oh, very good to see you down there. recognize the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer, for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, thank you for recognizing. i'm trying to do my job. [ laughter ] >> that's what the taxpayers in alabama expect. >> exactly. mr. volz, the president's budget requested $380 million for the polar follow-on program. having seen the costs overruns
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and delays faced by the current satellites, i think maybe you can understand our hesitation to fully -- or some of us -- our hesitation to fully fund this program. how exactly are these funds going to be used? >> thank you for the question, sir. the polar follow-on is the third and fourth series of the jpss satellites. the funds for this -- the initial $380 million are primarily to start and to the extent about 85% of those going directly to the instrument providers who have built the instruments for jpss-1 and jpss-2. the benefit of this approach that we've tried to articulate is that we are buying the satellite instruments, which are the highest risk, potentially the highest and most impactful of a satellite system at any time. in a bulk buy. we are buying two at once, maximizing the efficiency to the procurement at a time the instrument vendors are ready to build those having just finished the same instruments on jpss-2, so the money is going -- extent of 85% or thereabouts directly to the main four
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vendors who are supplying instruments for the jpss-3 and jpss-4 satellites. >> are those vendors building the components you think are most crucial? >> they will be prioritized, yes. >> so the majority of the money is going to that? >> yes, sir. >> all right. let me ask you one other question that i will ask to mr. powner. in gao's opinion, would noaa incur higher costs if they did not receive all of the requested funds for the polar programs? >> i'm not certain. this is back to where the appropriate analysis and the tradeoff assessments needs to be given to this committee, to gao, so that we can actually answer that question. you need analysis that supports it. >> well -- to close this, and i assume this will close the hearing, i just think handing noaa another blank check to


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