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NASA Green Lights Landsat 9 Build from Orbital ATK

By | March 19, 2018
Artist's rendition of the Landsat 9 spacecraft in orbit. Photo: Orbital ATK.

Artist’s rendition of the Landsat 9 spacecraft in orbit. Photo: Orbital ATK.

NASA has given Orbital ATK approval to begin building its Landsat 9 spacecraft after completing a comprehensive design review of the mission. Landsat 9, a land surface mapping satellite, will collect space-based images and data that serve as resources for researchers in areas that include agriculture, land use mapping, and disaster relief. Orbital ATK is designing and manufacturing the satellite, integrating two government-furnished instruments, and supporting launch, early orbit operations and on-orbit check-out of the observatory.

Representatives from NASA and Orbital ATK successfully completed a rigorous Critical Design Review (CDR) demonstrating that the program meets all technical performance measures and requirements. The execution of the design review enables the program to effectively transition into manufacturing and prepare for the assembly, test and launch operations phase of the mission. The Landsat 9 spacecraft will be manufactured and tested at the company’s Gilbert, Arizona, facility and is currently planned for launch in late 2020. The U.S. Geological Survey will operate the spacecraft once in orbit.

The CDR took place Feb. 26 through March 1 at Orbital ATK’s Gilbert facility. Landsat 9 will extend the length of the overall Landsat series to half a century, providing the longest continuous record of the Earth’s surface as seen from space, according to NASA. Orbital ATK has built three other Landsat satellites, including Landsat 8, which was launched in 2013, and is providing high quality images in quantities that surpass mission requirements. The company was also responsible for the successful Landsat 4 and Landsat 5 satellites launched in 1982 and 1984.