Taking “The Lead”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


From 2014 to 2016, the climate change/sea-level rise program was in crisis. Obama had killed NPOESS and replaced it with another giant weather satellite system, Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). In the wake of Hurricane Sandy (2012), Congress and the White House told NOAA to stick with weather and NASA to take charge of both R&D and operational climate satellites. NOAA and NASA resisted as Freilich feared losing research—NASA’s priority—to operations. NOAA ultimately found money for Jason-3. But EUMETSAT and Europe generally were alarmed by the turmoil and delays afflicting Jason-3. The European Union (EU) had established Copernicus, a large weather and climate program, mainly operational. It wanted partnership with the United States on a Jason-4, called Sentinel 6 Jason CS. Seeing NOAA’s lack of support, European agencies called on NASA to take the lead for the United States. Freilich adapted his strategy to what was a clear turning point and won support from Congress and the White House for a broader NASA role with Europe and Copernicus. The election of Donald Trump in November 2016 helped catalyze fast action on both sides of the Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
VolumePart F1542
ISSN (Print)2730-972X
ISSN (Electronic)2730-9738


  • Congress
  • Copernicus
  • Donald Trump
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)
  • White House

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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