TheConversation

Blog archive

Why NOAA-17 was put to sleep

polar orbit diagram

If NOAA-17 will remain in orbit for centuries to come, why pull the plug now? NASA brochure.)

A reader questioned what led to the retirement of one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s longest-serving satellites that FCW covered on April 12. The reader wrote: "There was nothing in the article as to why NOAA-17 was actually retired. Yes it is old and beyond its life expectancy, but was it still providing reliable and useful data? It appeared that it would stay in its orbit for many more decades, so if it was still operational one has to wonder why they retired it. I would like to see that addressed in the article."

Frank Konkel responds: NOAA-17 operated for far longer than satellites like it are supposed to live, but it was no longer working properly when the agency began to deactivate it on Feb. 18. At the time, its sister polar-orbiting satellites -- NOAA-15, NOAA-16, NOAA-18, NOAA-19 and the newest, Suomi NPP -- were all still collecting and sending vital weather information back to computers on land that help NOAA forecast the weather. NOAA-17 was not, which is why NOAA officials made the decision to “pull the plug.”

Rest assured, though, that NOAA is doing all it can to keep its existing polar-orbiting satellites operating as long as possible, and not only to make the most of past investments. The agency faces a huge risk if other satellites fail before 2017, when the newest of the next-generation polar-orbiting satellites under the Joint Polar Satellite System program is finally launched. Every satellite that dies before the JPSS-1 launch brings the agency charged with forecasting the weather one step closer to a gap in weather data.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM


Featured

  • Telecommunications
    Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

    GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

    Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

    OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

    The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

  • Acquisition
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

    The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.