The Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft is safely in orbit and sending telemetry back to Earth after a 1:02 p.m. EST liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket. The on-time liftoff followed a smooth countdown at Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3.
"The satellite is doing great," said Ken Schwer, LDCM project manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He announced that a few minutes after the spacecraft separated from the rocket’s Centaur upper stage, it began communicating with Earth and generating power with its solar array.
LDCM is a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The Landsat program has been providing uninterrupted imagery of Earth since the first Landsat in 1972. About three months after liftoff, USGS will take control and the spacecraft will be renamed Landsat 8. Once on station 438 miles above Earth, LDCM will orbit every 99 minutes and image the entire Earth every 16 days.
"Landsat is the one monitoring system that for the last 40 years has provided every citizen of planet Earth the scale and the resolution to observe – for himself or herself – the changes and the ability of this planet to provide for each and every one of us those services that we require," said Marcia McNutt, director of the USGS. "I’m happy to say that thanks to that flawless launch today, the Landsat legacy will live on."
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for LDCM project management. Orbital Sciences Corporation built the LDCM satellite. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Denver, Colo., is NASA’s launch service provider of the Atlas V 401 rocket.
"I want to thank the KSC Launch Services Program and United Space Alliance," Schwer said. "They have once again put us exactly where we want to be."
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