Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) has been given the approval to start building the NASA Landsat 9 spacecraft after completing a comprehensive design review (CDR) of the mission.
Landsat 9, a land surface mapping satellite, will collect space-based images and data that serve as valuable 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 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 spacecraft will be operated by the U.S. Geological Survey once in orbit.
The CDR occurred from February 26 through March 1 at Orbital ATK’s facility in Arizona — 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. 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.
Landsat 9 is based on Orbital ATK’s flight-proven LEOStar-3™ spacecraft bus platform, the same bus that was successfully used on Landsat 8. The Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation satellite (ICESat-2) and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-2) spacecraft are also based on the LEOStar-3 bus platform.
Steve Krein, VP of Science and Environmental Programs at Orbital ATK, said that this will be the fourth Landsat satellite built by Orbital ATK for NASA and demonstrates the company's continued ability to deliver high-quality land imaging satellites that support the Landsat program’s long record of success.