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February 9, 2016

Space-Based Nuclear Detonation Detection Program Might Fall Short

The National Nuclear Security Administration dedicated $300 million from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2013 for a space-based Nuclear Detonation Detection Program, used for, among other purposes, monitoring nuclear treaty compliance. (That’s kind of a hot issue with Russia right now.)

A new Energy Department inspector general report isn’t sure it will do what it’s supposed to with its current budget.

“We found that NNSA could not ensure, and we could not independently validate, whether it will fully meet customer needs within the SNDD Program budget,” a summary of the report, released Thursday, states. “In particular, despite the assertions from officials at the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), we could not validate whether the delivery dates could be met within the budget due to a lack of cost and schedule data for the project.”

The NNSA is supposed to be providing eight global burst detectors to ride along on GPS satellites to the Air Force.

In other satellite news, the House Intelligence Committee released a report Thursday saying that the National Reconnaissance Office could save billions by not buying satellites so quickly. Too fast, not fast enough — getting the right satellite timing isn’t easy, apparently.

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