NASA Awards Launch Contracts for Landsat 9, Sentinel 6A

SpaceX Air Force EELV

Team Vandenberg’s first SpaceX launch on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 from Space Launch Complex-4. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman Yvonne Morales

NASA announced it has selected launch providers for both its Sentinel 6A and Landsat 9 missions. SpaceX plans to launch the Sentinel 6A mission from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in November 2020. United Launch Alliance (ULA) is targeting a launch date of June 2021 for Landsat 9 on an Atlas 5 401 rocket, which will lift off from Space Launch Complex 3E also at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Sentinel 6A mission, also known as Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS), is a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the European Space Agency, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). This mission provides operational ocean altimetry to provide continuity of ocean topography measurements and continues the long-term global sea surface height data record begun in 1992 by the Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon and Jason 1, the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason 2 and Jason 3 missions. A secondary objective of the mission is to collect high-resolution vertical profiles of temperature, using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio-occultation sounding technique, to assess temperature changes in the troposphere and stratosphere and to support numerical weather prediction.

Landsat 9 is a partnership between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to continue the Landsat program’s critical role in monitoring, understanding, and managing the land resources needed to sustain human life. According to USGS, today’s increased rates of global land cover and land use change have profound consequences for weather and climate change, ecosystem function and services, carbon cycling and sequestration, resource management, the national and global economy, and human health and society. Landsat is the only U.S. satellite system designed and operated to repeatedly make multi-spectral observations of the global land surface at a moderate scale that shows both natural and human-induced change.

The total cost for NASA to launch Sentinel 6A is approximately $97 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs, while the cost for the Landsat 9 launch is approximately $153.8 million.

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