Office of the Press Secretary
May 10, 1994
Fact Sheet - Convergence of U.S. Polar Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems
The U.S. Department of Defense is responsible for the
Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). The mission of
DMSP is to collect and distribute global visible and infrared
cloud data and other specialized meteorological, oceanographic
and solar geophysical data to provide a survivable capability in
support of military operations.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),
through its Earth Observing System (EOS) development efforts,
provides new remote sensing and spacecraft technologies that
could potentially improve satellite operational capabilities.
The National Performance Review, led by Vice President Gore,
called for converging the two operational satellite programs as
well as incorporating appropriate aspects of NASA's EOS in order
to reduce duplication of effort and generate cost-savings. On
May 5, 1994, President Clinton approved the convergence of the
civil and military polar-orbiting satellite systems into a single
operational program. Details of the convergence plan are
The converged system on-orbit architecture will consist of
three low earth orbiting satellites. This is a reduction from
the current four satellites (two civilian and two military). The
orbits of the three satellites will evenly space throughout the
day to provide sufficient data refresh. The nominal equatorial
crossing times of the satellites will be 5:30, 9:30 and 1:30.
This converged system can accommodate international cooperation,
including the open distribution of environmental data.
The converged program will be conducted in accordance with
the following principles:
The Under Secretary-level Executive Committee will ensure
that both civil and national security requirements are satisfied.
The Executive Committee will also coordinate program plans,
budgets, and policies and will ensure agency funding commitments
are equitable and sustained.
The three agencies are developing a process for identifying,
validating, and documenting requirements for the converged
system. Those requirements will define the system baseline used
to develop agency budgets.
The Department of Commerce, through NOAA, will have lead
agency responsibility to the Executive Committee for the
converged system. NOAA will have lead agency responsibility to
support the IPO for satellite operations. NOAA will also have
the lead for interfacing with national and international civil
user communities, consistent with national security and foreign
The Department of Defense will have lead agency
responsibility to support the IPO in major systems acquisitions.
NASA will have lead agency responsibility to support the IPO in
facilitating the development and insertion of new cost-effective
technologies to meet operational requirements.
The United States will seek to implement the converged
system in a manner that encourages cooperation with foreign
governments and international organizations consistent with U.S.
requirements. The United States' European partners have been
invited to explore incorporating the European METOP (meteorological operational
mission) polar satellite series into the converged system. This
effort underscores the importance that the United States places
on environmental satellite cooperation with our European
partners. The METOP is a joint undertaking of the European
Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
(EUMETSAT), the European Space Agency (ESA), and their member