Unified National Space Weather Capability (UNSWC) Established


  • Samuel P. Williamson,

  • Michael F. Bonadonna

Key Points

  • The UNSWC MOU has been approved by the NSWP council
  • The UNSWC MOU strengthens Federal interagency partnerships
  • The establishment of the UNSWC is a bold step forward for the NSWP

The Unified National Space Weather Capability (UNSWC) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Annex have been approved by the National Space Weather Program (NSWP) Council {www.nswp.gov}. The UNSWC is the product of interagency coordination and collaboration among all the NSWP partners. All nine NSWP partner agencies contribute to the UNSWC in various ways; however, five of the agencies (US Air Force, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the US Geological Survey) wanted a stronger foundation for participating and providing resources for interagency initiatives. The other NSWP partners not covered by the UNSWC MOU participate in the utilization, application, and coordination of the UNSWC without the need for additional justification and authority to do so. Additionally, the UNSWC serves as the internationally recognized entry point to US space weather support and services, encompassing the ongoing contributions of all of the NSWP member agencies.

The UNSWC MOU strengthens the interagency partnerships and cooperation of the Federal government that have been a hallmark of the NSWP since its inception in 1995. The MOU permits effective implementation of the NSWP Strategic Plan while continuing to advance space weather research and in developing new and improved capabilities for the Nation. The ability to effectively leverage partnerships to advance mission accomplishment and improve services to the Nation is in the best interest of American taxpayers.

The ability of the UNSWC partners to commit substantial resources to interagency programs and activities has been severely challenged by ever-increasing budget pressures. The MOU provides the formal structure which serves as the foundation for the UNSWC partners to justify cooperative and synergistic activities. The MOU also serves as an umbrella agreement under which specific annexes will be developed to establish specific bilateral or multilateral objectives. The first annex provides the basis for the research to operations cooperation between NASA and NOAA—a key enabler for improving space weather services to the public. Other annexes may be developed as the need arises.

With the establishment of the UNSWC, the NSWP Council has taken a bold step towards improving the Nation's space weather capabilities. As a next step, the Council will develop a new NSWP Strategic Research Plan and Roadmap based on the operational needs of the NWSP partners and advice from the National Research Council's Decadal Survey on Solar and Space Physics (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13060). The Council will also pursue an initiative to develop an Education and Public Outreach (EPO) program to raise the general public's awareness of space weather and its potential impacts and to include information on how to mitigate the impacts of hazardous space weather events. The NSWP Council remains dedicated to the effective coordination of national investments in space weather operational and research capabilities to provide the best possible services to customers and stakeholders.


  • Samuel P. Williamson is the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research and the Chairman of the National Space Weather Program Council, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, Washington, D. C. Email: Samuel.Williamson@NOAA.gov

  • Michael F. Bonadonna is the Executive Secretary for the National Space Weather Program Council, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology,Washington D. C. Email: Michael.Bonadonna@noaa.gov.