Continuity of NOAA Satellites

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It will be chaired by Jonathan Porter. The text has been upated. An earlier of version of the story did not make clear that Ligado Networks is a satellite-communications company. The text has been revised to reflect this.

Continuity of NOAA Satellites

Alex covers Earth and planetary sciences, with a little dabbling in astronomy. She studied geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and science communication at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Among other places she has worked as a journalist for Science News and the Dallas Mor….

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I am delighted to be here on behalf of NOAA and the Department of Commerce to discuss the valuable role space-based assets play in public safety and commerce. As the Director of the Office of Space Commercialization, it is my responsibility to promote a robust and responsive U. The Office of Space Commercialization has seen some changes since it was established in In order to better serve our stakeholders, we have distributed a draft Strategic Plan for comment.

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Unlike most other space agencies within the Federal Government, which are more mission oriented, our Office is focused on how space-based assets benefit commerce. In many cases, these activities have become so routine, dependable, and convenient that it is easy for the public to forget that space is involved. Our daily weather forecasts would be far less reliable without earth observing satellites. And global voice, video, and data distribution would be nearly impossible without commercial satellite communications.

As we know, the hurricane destruction of terrestrial communications facilities in the Gulf region in was extraordinary and the resulting lack of communications infrastructure severely impeded disaster relief and recovery efforts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, The National Guard, the Red Cross, first responders, utility workers, families, and local phone companies relied on satellite communication systems. Satellite service providers provided instant infrastructure and emergency voice, video, and data communications in the affected areas. The organizations utilizing services from transportable ATM machines to high-speed Internet access ranged from federal, state and local government agencies to schools, churches and local relief organizations.

Small businesses such as gas stations and convenience stores, and larger businesses such as insurance companies, financial institutions, and media organizations also used satellite capacity to stay in business. Both satellite radio and TV providers dedicated 24 hour channels to FEMA and the Red Cross for disseminating hurricane-related information including storm and evacuation routes, clean-up, road closures, school closings, and other vital information from the Federal Government.

These are just a few examples of how satellite communications came to the aid of first responders, families, and businesses affected by the disaster. Along the same lines, the satellite-based Global Positioning System, or GPS, proved to be indispensable during the relief and recovery operations following hurricanes of the season. Unaffected by weather conditions, GPS continued to provide accurate location information to rescue workers after entire neighborhoods were left unrecognizable.

GPS allowed relief vessels to safely navigate into areas where ground-based navigation aids were no longer functioning.

An Introduction to the EUMETSAT Polar System

Obviously, GPS has many applications beyond public safety. As the President recognized in a national policy directive, GPS is now a global utility whose multi-use services are integral to U.

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Within the business world, this includes GPS-based timing systems critical to the banking, financing, power, and telecommunications sectors. The Commerce Department, especially NTIA, has participated in the preparation of the plan and looks forward to participating in its implementation. We also want to encourage private sector businesses to develop contingency plans to back up critical operational dependencies on GPS with supplemental capabilities.

At the same time, the U. Government is upgrading the GPS constellation with new capabilities that will make it more robust against interference and enable continuity of service in a greater range of environments.