NOAA 03-061
Contact: John Leslie

NOAA News Releases 2003
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A new White House policy that supports the technology, products and services developed by the nation’s commercial satellite remote sensing companies will stimulate new growth opportunities for the industry, according to the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Last week, President George W. Bush authorized a new policy that establishes guidance and implementation actions involving United States commercial remote sensing space companies. The policy offers guidance on issues, including the licensing of the remote sensing systems, U.S. government use of remote sensing capabilities, foreign access to the U.S. capabilities and government-to-government intelligence, defense and foreign policy relationships that involve U.S. commercial remote sensing.

“This is a growing industry that has barely scratched the surface of its potential,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph. D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are excited the new policy supports accelerated growth for the industry.”

Lautenbacher added: “It’s in America’s best interest to have a strong, thriving commercial remote sensing industry, which contribute to NOAA’s efforts in coastal monitoring, mapping and charting and safe navigation.”

For NOAA Satellites and Information, the policy means the agency will continue to license the operation of private remote sensing space systems, in consultation with the departments of Defense, State, Interior and other agencies. To date, NOAA has awarded 18 operating licenses to 14 companies.

In Washington last week, NOAA, with the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, wrapped up an international symposium on the commercial satellite remote sensing industry. It was the first time leading government and corporate satellite experts huddled to discuss the commercial remote sensing industry.

“We are an advocate for these companies, and will continue working closely with them for greater success,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA Satellites and Information.

Satellite remote sensing systems collect information about the Earth’s surface by absorbing the electromagnetic waves that are emitted, or reflected, by the objects being monitored. These objects include land masses and bodies of water. A licensed system receives and stores these data.

NOAA Satellites and Information is the nation’s primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. It operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for weather and ocean observation and forecasting, climate monitoring and other environmental applications, including sea-surface temperature, fire detection and ozone monitoring. NOAA’s commercial licensing program draws on NOAA’s heritage in satellite operations and remote sensing applications.

NOAA Satellites and Information also operates three data centers, which house global databases in climatology, oceanography, solid Earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and paleoclimatology.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of America’s coastal and marine resources.

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