A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA lifted off on Sept. 27 at 11:12 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base. To date ULA has launched 145 times with 100 percent mission success.
“Thank you to our mission partners for the tremendous teamwork as we worked through a challenging health environment to launch this significant ability that will continue to enable future discoveries about our planet,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We are proud to empower critical Earth science research through our long-standing NASA partnership.”
The Atlas V delivered Landsat 9 into a near-polar, sun synchronous orbit around Earth, continuing the Landsat program’s vital role of repeat global observations for monitoring, understanding and managing Earth’s natural resources. The addition of Landsat 9 will continue Landsat’s irreplaceable record of Earth’s land surfaces with high-quality, global land imaging measurements for decades to come.
This was the 88th launch of the Atlas V rocket and the mission marked the first four-burn Centaur mission for ULA on an Atlas V rocket. The first burn placed the Landsat spacecraft into the desired near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit, the second and third firings of the Centaur upper stage served to lower the orbital altitude and slightly change the orbital inclination to release the four CubeSats. A fourth and final burn by the Centaur’s RL10C-1 cryogenic main engine executed the deorbit maneuver to dispose of the stage in a safe manner that does not contribute to space debris or cause an uncontrolled re-entry.
The mission launched on an Atlas V 401 configuration rocket that included a 13.7-ft (4-m) Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF). The Atlas booster was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.
This was the 20th mission launched on an Atlas V in partnership with NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP). ULA’s next launch, the Lucy mission for NASA, planned for Oct. 16, 2021, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, continues that partnership.
With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 140 missions to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, deliver cutting-edge commercial services and enable GPS navigation. For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).
Julie Arnold, Photos by United Launch Alliance