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Departmant of Commerce
   
 
DoC Government Seal   The Department of Commerce (DoC) is responsible for promoting U.S. commercial interests in both domestic and international markets. During FY 1998, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Office of Air and Space Commercialization (OASC), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) engaged in a wide variety of space-related activities to ensure U.S. economic growth, development, and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

NOAA successfully launched NOAA-K (15), the first of its new series of polar-orbiting satellites, on May 13, 1998. NOAA-15 is the first in a series of five satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities that will operate over the next 12 years and will collect meteorological and environmental data and transmit information to users around the world. On May 29, 1998, as part of the convergence of the U.S. polar satellites under the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), NOAA assumed operational responsibility for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) from the U.S. Air Force. With respect to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program, NOAA took operational responsibility of the GOES-10 satellite, which had been launched in 1997, and placed it into an onorbit storage mode for use as an "onorbit spare" satellite, should one of the two operational satellites (GOES-8 or GOES-9) fail. In April 1998, when GOES-9 (GOES West) started to experience anomalies, NOAA personnel brought GOES-10 back into onorbit operational mode to provide meteorological coverage with minimal impact to the Nation's weather forecasting. NOAA personnel continued to conduct both the polar satellites—those of DMSP and the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) program—and GOES program operations from the Suitland, Maryland, satellite control center.

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Services (NESDIS) continued its involvement in the Landsat Program Management group, comprised of NESDIS, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). NOAA, NASA, and the USGS cohosted the 27th Landsat Ground Station Operations Working Group in May 1998, as well as conducted a Special Technical Session on Landsat 7 operations. NESDIS continued negotiations with 18 international ground stations interested in signing Landsat 7 MOU's to receive data directly from the spacecraft. NESDIS continued to work with the 11 international ground stations that are currently part of the Landsat 4/5 program.

At NOAA's NESDIS, research and data centers made significant progress toward utilizing the World Wide Web as a means to meet national and global customer data demands. The three data centers—the National Climatic Data Center, the National Geophysical Data Center, and the National Oceanographic Data Center—surpassed prior records for fulfilling data requests from the public and the research community. NESDIS personnel continued to develop new products for public and Government use. National Climatic Data Center personnel participated in a number of global climate change studies in which long-term data revealed significant anomalies in global land-surface temperature. The National Geophysical Data Center continued its geophysical and paleo-environmental work, as well as applications of the DMSP data to develop global nighttime lights and global fire products.

The Washington, D.C., Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) within NOAA began operations in November 1997. One purpose of the VAAC is to provide to the aviation and volcanology community virtually real-time analysis of satellite products to support volcanic ash eruptions. In addition to providing operational messages about other eruptions in its area of responsibility, the VAAC provided more than 435 advisory messages for the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat, West Indies. This VAAC is the largest of nine worldwide and is operated under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. NESDIS provided operational satellite-derived fire support for wildfires in Indonesia, Mexico, Central America, and Brazil at the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, and the governments of Mexico and Brazil. NESDIS personnel also provided satellite-derived products to support fire-suppression activities to local firefighting units in southern Florida.

In the area of commercial licensing, NESDIS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on private remote-sensing regulations in November 1997 and held a public meeting to solicit comments on the proposed regulations in April 1998. NESDIS issued its first Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) license, issued two license amendments, and approved six international agreements. In response to statutory requirements on the commercial imagery of Israel, NESDIS worked with an interagency group to develop and publish the 2-meter imaging limitation.

During FY 1998, the Administrators of NOAA and NASA signed a basic agreement on behalf of the two agencies concerning collaborative programs. This was an umbrella agreement covering 12 MOU's, some of which also involved international partners. In addition, the NOAA and NASA Administrators signed an MOU with the secretary of the Indian Department of Space for science cooperation in the areas of Earth and atmospheric sciences. The Indian MOU will provide for real-time exchange of Indian geostationary satellite data (from INSAT) within the context of cooperative activities in the Earth and atmospheric sciences.

Also in the international arena, NOAA completed amendments to the Argos MOU Amendment with France's Centre Nationale d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) to cover instruments on the future NOAA-N' (N prime) satellite. NESDIS participated in a number of bilateral activities with the Canadian Space Agency for Radarsat I/II, the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan for the Advanced Land Observing Satellite and Advanced Earth Observing Satellite II systems. Negotiators made significant progress on the proposed Integrated Joint Polar Systems with the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) for instruments on future polar satellites as part of the NPOESS program.

NESDIS also participated in many activities associated with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) at the plenary, working group, and project levels. NESDIS chaired the Disaster Management Support Project in connection with CEOS and the Integrated Global Observing Strategy and held a number of meetings in Europe, Asia, and the United States aimed at gathering information from space agencies and disaster/emergency managers about their current use of satellite data and their requirements.

Also at DoC, OASC continued efforts to foster an economic and policy environment that promotes the global preeminence of the U.S. commercial space industry. OASC served as an advocate for the U.S. commercial satellite imaging industry during high-level interagency meetings on U.S. remote-sensing policy regarding Canada, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Spain. The office also worked in coordination with other DoC bureaus to serve U.S. commercial interests in the areas of GPS and launch services.

As a member of the Interagency GPS Executive Board (IGEB), DoC contributed significantly to major U.S. decisions affecting the future of GPS. NOAA, OASC, and the NTIA participated in the decisionmaking processes that led to and stemmed from the March 1998 commitment to add new civilian capabilities to GPS, as announced by Vice President Al Gore. In particular, NOAA and OASC cochaired an interagency working group established by the IGEB to develop a strategy for funding GPS as a national priority. NOAA also led the collection and documentation of civilian requirements for GPS modernization. With respect to GPS radio spectrum, NTIA played an essential role in conducting technical studies, supporting both the GPS modernization effort and the U.S. position at the World Radio Conference. DoC officials also served on U.S. delegations that met with Japan and the European Union to negotiate agreements intended to establish GPS as a worldwide standard. The consultations with Japan culminated in a joint statement on GPS cooperation signed by President Bill Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in September 1998.

OASC and ITA represented the interests of U.S. launch and satellite industries during annual consultations with China, Russia, and the Ukraine on commercial space launch services. In October 1997, DoC participated in the negotiation and signing of an amendment to the U.S.-China agreement covering price guidelines for launches to LEO.

ITA's Office of Aerospace also participated in discussions with the European Union concerning government support for the development of new civil aircraft programs. ITA, in concert with other agencies, undertook efforts to advance U.S. trade interests regarding regulatory measures in Europe that could restrict U.S. exports. ITA also participated in discussions with Russia and the Ukraine to encourage them to sign the GATT Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft as a part of their World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. In the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, ITA sought to advance a proposal aimed at eliminating aircraft tariffs imposed by APEC members. ITA served on a U.S. delegation that met with Russia to discuss the implementation of tariff waivers on civil aircraft. ITA also supported efforts of the U.S.-China Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade to expand intergovernmental cooperation and trade in civil aviation and airports.

To promote the export of U.S. aerospace products, ITA sponsored Aerospace Product Literature Centers at major international aerospace exhibitions and air shows in Berlin, Chile, China, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, South Africa, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Trade leads generated through this literature center concept numbered more than 7,500. ITA also supported U.S. firms in international aerospace competitions, including those for helicopters, commercial transport aircraft, and space launch vehicles.

ITA's Office of Telecommunications continued its work to support U.S. access to satellite markets overseas through a variety of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Under the WTO Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services, the Office of Telecommunications supported the U.S. Trade Representative's office in monitoring several aspects of the agreement, including provisions relating to market access for satellite service providers. ITA supported the inclusion of certain satellite products in the Information Technology Agreement II, with the goal of reducing tariffs and facilitating increased trade. ITA sought to increase market access for U.S. companies through its support for the U.S.-Argentina Satellite Services Agreement, which was signed in June 1998. ITA also endeavored to open Japan's direct-to-home satellite services market for U.S. companies through the U.S.-Japan Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy. Also with regard to Japan, ITA monitored compliance with the 1990 U.S.-Japan Satellite Procurement Agreement.

ITA developed updated market data and projections on the sales of satellite services and equipment, space transportation services, and other space-related goods and services for inclusion in the 1999 U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook. ITA also released a major study of market trends and growth in the commercial GPS industry.

As the lead advisory agency for Federal Government telecommunications issues, NTIA undertook a number of policy initiatives regarding satellites and other space-based communications systems. Specifically, NTIA provided policy guidance on the restructuring of the International Telecommunications Satellite (INTELSAT) Organization and the International Mobile Satellite (INMARSAT) Organization. NTIA continued to manage the Federal Government's use of the radio spectrum, including assignments for NASA, DoD, NOAA, and other Government satellite programs. NTIA worked closely with other U.S. regulatory authorities and commercial satellite users at the ITU World Radio Conference to secure spectrum allocations for satellite systems in frequency bands above 15 gigahertz (GHz).

NIST performed a wide variety of metrology-related research in support of aeronautics and space activities during FY 1998. NIST scientists and engineers worked in collaboration with their counterparts in eight NASA Centers on more than 50 projects. NIST supplied the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) with time and frequency reference services for the Deep Space Network, using the NIST atomic clock, and collaborated with NASA scientists on the development of a laser-cooled cesium clock for scientific and technical applications in space. NIST evaluated chemical kinetic data in support of NASA's upper atmospheric research program and provided calibration services for NASA's EOS. NIST worked closely with NASA scientists on developing space telescope imaging spectrograph and spectral and photometric imaging systems. Finally, several scientists from NASA Centers conducted joint experiments with NIST staff, using the NIST Cold Neutron Facility at the Center for Neutron Research and the NIST Synchrotron Ultraviolet Radiation Facility.

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