NASA will launch their Landsat 9 Earth-imaging satellite to continue the longest-running Earth-imaging satellite program, which began in the 1970s. Landsat 9 will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from their west coast launch facilities. The mission will replace Landsat 7, which launched back in 1999. Follow along with live updates on the Landsat 9 launch below.
Date: Monday, September 27 2:12 p.m. EDT
Rocket: United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401
Payload: Landsat 9 along side four sciences and national security cubesats.
Launch Pad: SLC-3E, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
Destination: 705 km high Sun-synchronous orbit
Landing Site: None, the Atlas V vehicle is not reusable
About ULA’s Atlas V rocket
The Atlas rocket has been a workhorse for the United States military and NASA. The Atlas V family tree goes back to the late 1950s as one of the US military’s first ICBMs. However, the military quickly determined liquid-fueled rockets were better suited in the satellite business, and the Atlas launcher was born. Throughout its history, the Atlas was used to project Mercury, Gemini, and some of the most important scientific and national security missions for the United States.
What is an Atlas V 401?
The modern version of the Atlas is a two-stage design with up to 5 solid rocket motors on the side. It is optimized for national security launches but has several commercial contracts with Boeing and Amazon. This variant of the Atlas is the 401, the smallest of all the available configurations. The first digit designates the fairing size, which is in meters, so this rocket will have a 4-meter wide fairing. The second digit stands for the number of solid rocket motors (SRMs) being used. This can be between 0-5, and for this mission, we have none. The third and final digit shows how many RL-10 engines are installed on the Centaur upper stage. For the majority of launches of the Atlas rocket, we will only see one of these engines.
ULA Launch Weather
According to United Launch Alliance, Space Launch Delta 30 has given Landsat 9 a greater than 90% probability of acceptable weather. Although with most Vandenberg launches, fog will likely obstruct viewing of the launch in the area.
NASA Landsat 9 launch updates
Monday, September 27, 3:33 p.m. EDT: Successful separation of the Landsat 9 from the Centaur upper stage.
Monday, September 27, 3:14 p.m. EDT: T+1 hour after Landsat 9’s launch and no new updates have been given so far.
Monday, September 27, 2:34 p.m. EDT: Telemetry shows good orbit parameters.
Monday, September 27, 2:32 p.m. EDT: Landsat 9 will now coast for about an hour before being separated from the Centaur upper stage.
Monday, September 27, 2:29 p.m. EDT: The Centaur upper stage has shut down its main engine. Awaiting good orbit insertion callout.
Monday, September 27, 2:21 p.m. EDT: All is doing well with the flight of Landsat 9. ULA has 8 minutes left in its burn time.
Monday, September 27, 2:16 p.m. EDT: Atlas V’s first stage has cut off its engine, and the Centaur upper stage has separated and ignited its engine. The payloads fairings have also been jettisoned.
Monday, September 27, 2:14 p.m. EDT: Atlas V is now supersonic and has passed the moment of peak aerodynamic pressure.
Monday, September 27, 2:12 p.m. EDT: Liftoff of the Atlas V rocket!
Monday, September 27, 2:11 p.m. EDT: Range is GREEN for launch.
Monday, September 27, 2:11 p.m. EDT: T-1 minute, everything GO for launch still.
Monday, September 27, 2:08 p.m. EDT: T-4 minutes and counting, terminal count has begun.
Monday, September 27, 2:06 p.m. EDT: GO has been given for terminal count.
Monday, September 27, 2:02 p.m. EDT: T-10 minutes till launch of Landsat 9.
Monday, September 27, 1:59 p.m. EDT: The Atlas V is now on internal power.
Monday, September 27, 1:52 p.m. EDT: ULA teams have gotten back on schedule in their countdown.
Monday, September 27, 1:44 p.m. EDT: Weather remains GO for launch according to SLD 30 weather officer.
Monday, September 27, 1:40 p.m. EDT: All three cryogenic tanks on the Atlas V rocket have been topped off to flight levels.
Monday, September 27, 1:36 p.m. EDT: ULA is currently running about 5 minutes behind but this should be resolved during their upcoming countdown holds planned into the timeline.
Monday, September 27, 1:34 p.m. EDT: NASA’s Public affairs representative stated that this will be Vandenberg’s 2,000th launch since it opened in 1958.
Monday, September 27, 1:30 p.m. EDT: The live coverage of the launch has begun on NASA’s YouTube channel.
Monday, September 27, 1:25 p.m. EDT: Correction: Launch time is at 2:12 p.m. EDT.
Monday, September 27, 1:17 p.m. EDT: Fueling of liquid oxygen in the first stage has finished making it fully fueled with RP-1 already loaded into the booster before the countdown began.
Monday, September 27, 1:11 p.m. EDT: T-1 hour and all signs still point to an on-time launch of Landsat 9.
Monday, September 27, 12:54 p.m. EDT: ULA CEO Tory Bruno mentioned they had a sticky liquid oxygen valve during fueling but it was resolved.
Monday, September 27, 12:53 p.m. EDT: Centaur’s liquid hydrogen tank has reached 96% full.
Monday, September 27, 12:33 p.m. EDT: Liquid hydrogen has now begun to fill its tank in the Centaur upper stage.
Monday, September 27, 12:21 p.m. EDT: The Centaur upper stage is now fully fueled with liquid oxygen, and the fueling mode for the first stage liquid oxygen has been switched to “fast-fill mode.”
Monday, September 27, 11:48 a.m. EDT: Fueling operations have begun on SLC-3E, with liquid oxygen being filled into the Centaur upper stage.
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