The SEASAT-A Project:

Where It Stands Today

PSAD-77-126: Published: Sep 16, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1977.

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SEASAT-A is an ocean dynamics satellite scheduled for launch in 1978 with sensors to measure winds, waves, ocean currents, sea temperatures, ice coverage, and atmospheric and water vapor.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has experienced cost, schedule, and performance difficulties with the SEASAT-A because of technical problems and an estimated $5 million increase in the cost of the launch vehicle. NASA did not identify and report to Congress at least $12.3 million in SEASAT-A project-related costs. No organization outside the Government has committed any money to the project. Government agencies that plan to use the data, especially the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have experienced difficulty in obtaining the required funds. Without definite monetary commitments from potential users of SEASAT-A data, the Federal Government would be justified in not pursuing an operational SEASAT program planned in 1985. An economic assessment study conducted for the operational program overstated projected benefits. SEASAT-A will not be launched until 1978, and engineering validation of sensors' performance and geophysical validation of data will take several years.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of NASA should: formalize agreements with potential users of SEASAT-A data, particularly NOAA, to insure their necessary contributions of resources to the project before expanding the program beyond the project stage; identify on the project status report all costs, cost increases, and important schedule and performance data and submit the report to each committee of the Congress having oversight and appropriations responsibility over NASA; demonstrate that SEASAT-A data can achieve its stated scientific objectives before expanding the program beyond the project phase; and develop all costs identifiable with an operational SEASAT system.

    Agency Affected:


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