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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 United States depends upon JPSS for providing the most critical global data for weather forecasts that are three to seven days ahead of severe weather such as hurricanes, blizzards, and severe storm systems that create tornados. 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 ultra violet radiation forecasts. Harry is the U.S. Government executive responsible for directing this $11.3 billion dollar program to provide 14 years of coverage from 2012 through 2025, keeping its 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; launch of the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) Calibration Transfer Experiment (TCTE) in 2013 with support of the U.S. Air Force; and building strong partnerships to achieve the NOAA mission at reduced cost, to provide greater return for American taxpayers. These partnerships include NASA, which staffs most of the JPSS Program and is the acquisition Center of Excellence for NOAA satellite programs and a satellite communication services partner; the U.S. Department of Defense, a key user of JPSS services and data as well as a provider of data to support NOAA’s mission; the European Meteorological Satellite Agency (EUMETSAT), NOAA’s primary partner in providing two orbit global polar weather/environmental satellite coverage; the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the Global Climate Observing Mission – Water 1 (GCOM-W1) which contributes moisture data to the JPSS mission; and the U.S. National Science Foundation for Antarctic data reception.

Harry has over 30 years of experience in the space industry, most at NASA, where he began his career as an aerospace engineer. Harry joined NOAA after serving at NASA's Glenn Research Center as the Deputy Director of the Engineering Directorate. In prior assignments, Harry was Glenn’s Associate Director for Exploration Systems, and also led activities in space transportation, including space shuttle return to flight support, the Advanced Space Transportation Program, Next Generation Launch Technology, X - 33, Future X and Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter. In the mid-1990's, Harry was responsible for mission management of NASA intermediate spacecraft launches, supporting the Earth Observing System (EOS) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). Harry also worked at Marshall Space Flight Center for over 10 years; during that time, he supported the Space Shuttle and led engine studies in a joint NASA/U.S. Air Force program for future launchers.

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 comes to JPSS from the Office of Satellite and Product Operations for NESDIS 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 represented NESDIS on various management teams, boards and councils and was the U.S. Representative to the 40-Nation Cospas-Sarsat Council.

In prior assignments, Ajay 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. He has led teams that have earned the Department's Gold and Bronze Medal for leadership on the Cospas-Sarsat program.

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.