The Air Force confirmed Wednesday that it had notified Congress that it is entirely likely the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System program unit cost would bust its baseline cost by 15 percent, breaching the so-called Nunn-McCurdy rule. Lt. Col. Karen Finn said the increase is due to cost growth from technical issues that came up during the engineering, manufacturing, and development phase of the program. “Various sensor developments for the satellite have been more difficult to complete than had been anticipated,” Finn said in a statement. She added that the service has a program assessment of the EMD phase under way and plans to examine and recommend viable alternative approaches. NPOESS is a joint venture between NOAA, the Air Force, and NASA to consolidate the nation’s weather satellites into a single program.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.