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NOAA and NASA work together in a joint JPSS Program Office, which oversees the development of instruments, spacecraft, ground system and science. In addition to NOAA and NASA, JPSS is supported by a large number of contracting companies, academic institutions and research organizations.

Harry Cikanek

Harry Cikanek

Director

Harry is the Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). JPSS is the United States’ next-generation polar orbiting weather and environmental satellite system. The U.S. depends upon JPSS for providing the most critical global data for weather forecasts three to seven days ahead of severe weather such as hurricanes, blizzards, and severe storm systems that create tornadoes. JPSS observations also are critical for near-term forecasting in Alaska and the Polar Regions, as well as a wide range of other needs like wild fires, volcanic ash plumes, floods, droughts, sea ice, fog, harmful algal blooms, and ultraviolet radiation forecasts. Harry directs this multi-billion dollar program which extends from 2012 through 2038, sustaining its one inherited mission and keeping its four developed missions on schedule and within budget.

Since joining NOAA as JPSS Director in late 2011, his major accomplishments include stabilizing and streamlining the program to tighten its focus on the weather mission while avoiding over $2 billion in cost; overseeing the successful transition of the Suomi National Polar Partnership (the first JPSS mission) satellite to NOAA operations and its continued successful operations in support of the NOAA weather mission; adding Polar Follow-On JPSS-3 and JPSS-4 missions to the program; and building strong partnerships to achieve the NOAA mission at reduced cost to provide greater return for American taxpayers. These partnerships include NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the European Meteorological Satellite Agency (EUMETSAT), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Harry has over 30 years of experience in the space industry, primarily at NASA, and most recently as NASA Glenn Research Center’s Deputy Director of the Engineering Directorate. Prior assignments include leadership positions in launch services, space transportation technology, and human exploration. Harry also worked at Marshall Space Flight Center for over 10 years in engineering and project management, supporting the space shuttle, technology programs, and joint NASA/DoD efforts that eventually resulted in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and the Delta IV RS-68 main engine.

Harry holds two degrees in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and has completed extensive academic coursework in systems engineering and project management.  He is the author or coauthor of over 25 papers and articles. He is also a recipient of the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Ajay Mehta

Ajay Mehta

Deputy Director

Ajay is the Deputy Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) - the United States’ next-generation polar orbiting weather, environment and climate satellite system. Ajay is responsible for providing leadership and management for the execution of this $11.3 billion dollar program. Ajay joined JPSS in 2011 and was a member of the transition team that planned and executed the transition from the NPOESS program to JPSS. In addition to overall leadership/management responsibilities, he has led teams and initiatives to define requirements, stabilize budgets, develop the JPSS organization and engage partner organizations.

Ajay comes to JPSS from NOAA’s Office of Satellite and Product Operations where he was the Deputy Director. He was responsible for the line management of five Divisions comprising more than 300 employees and 250 contractors. The responsibilities for the Office included the command and control of more than 18 geostationary and polar-orbiting environmental satellites, provision of products and services to national and international users, management of the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility as well as two Command and Data Acquisition Stations, and leading programmatic partnerships for satellite-aided search and rescue, data collection systems, and the National Ice Center.

Ajay has represented NOAA on various management teams, boards and councils and was the U.S. Representative to the 40-nation Cospas-Sarsat Council. Prior assignments include serving in a leadership/management position within NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and NOAA’s Emergency Response Program; leading the implementation of a performance metric system in the U.S. Coast Guard; and supporting NOAA’s Deepwater Horizon Commander as the lead for strategic planning for NOAA’s activities in response to the Gulf oil spill. He has also managed NOAA's search and rescue program and supported NOAA's Office of Satellite Data Processing and Distribution in maintaining systems and software for product processing. Ajay has led teams that have earned the Department of Commerce’s Gold and Bronze Medals for leadership.

Preston Burch

Preston Burch

Associate Director/Program Manager

Preston Burch is the Goddard Space Flight Center Code 400 Associate Director and Program Manager for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). Previously, he served as Code 400 Associate Director of the Astrophysics Projects Division and Hubble Space Telescope Program Manager, with overall responsibility for the on-orbit servicing, mission operations, and science program on Hubble. Mr. Burch was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for his contributions to the Hubble First Servicing Mission in 1993. In 2002, Mr. Burch was chosen to receive The Meritorious Presidential Rank Award for leading the highly successful Hubble 3B Servicing Mission. Prior to joining NASA in 1991, Mr. Burch worked on a variety of NASA space missions in private industry. Mr. Burch began his aerospace career in 1966 on the Apollo Program as an engineer on the Lunar Module following receipt of a degree in Physics.