Landsat Launches - Looking Back (AD)

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A short look back at the the history of Landsat launches through the historic articles of the Lompoc Record publication.

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Length: 00:04:25

Location Taken: US

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Landsat satellites have observed the Earth for nearly 50 years. The launch of Landsat 9 is set to continue that important role of helping manage resources and extend the program’s archive into the future. Landsat 9 also continues the tradition of launching from the Vandenberg base at Lompoc, California. Every Landsat Launch has taken place here, and by looking back at articles published in the local newspaper - The Lompoc Record, we have a historical view of each satellite launch scene and the technical advancements sent into orbit. 

In 1972, an experimental satellite named Earth Resources Technology Satellite, or ERTS, launched from there and began sending images back to Earth that exceeded scientists’ expectations and revealed valuable insights about agriculture, minerals, and much more. In 1975, following the success of the first, a second experimental ERTS satellite launched and then was christened Landsat 2. Three years, and many scientific studies, later, Landsat 3 followed. Each of the first three satellites had a repeat cycle of 18 days. Landsat 4 launched in 1982 with an updated design and a new Thematic Mapper. This satellite had a repeat cycle of 16 days, as did every Landsat satellite that came after it. Landsat 5, similar in design to Landsat 4, launched in 1984. At the time, Landsat 5 had a design life of only a handful of years, like previous Landsat satellites. Fortunately, Landsat 5 was able to provide data for 28 years and prevent a gap in the archive. Landsat 6 launched in 1993 after many delays but did not achieve orbit Had it successfully achieved orbit, it would've transmitted data from a new enhance thematic mapper In 1999 Landsat 7 launched and successfully achieved orbit with the enhanced Thematic Mapper on board. Landsat 7 used the Delta Launch Vehicle as did all of those before it except Landsat 6, which was launched with a Titan. Landsat 8 and 9 would use the Atlas launch vehicles. Landsat 8 launched in 2013 with two new sensors. The launch had thousands of witnesses, among them local school kids. Crowds of spectators were common for Landsat launches and included government officials, people who had worked on the project, and Lompoc-area residents. 

About 100 days after NASA launches Landsat 9 from Vandenberg, the U.S. Geological Survey is set to take over ownership and operation of the satellite. The new data will flow into the Landsat archive kept by the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center to be used by scientists tackling the challenges of today and tomorrow.