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Landsat 9 Logo

Launch Readiness: December 2020

The Landsat satellite system repeatedly observes the global land surface at a moderate resolution to help scientists distinguish between natural and human-induced changes to the landscape. Like Landsat 8, Landsat 9 will have a higher imaging capacity than previous Landsat satellites (~740 scenes/day), allowing for more valuable data to be added to the Landsat global land imaging archive.

A rendering of the Landsat 9 spacecraft.
Figure 1. A rendering of the Landsat 9 spacecraft. Image credit: Northrop Grumman



  • NASA: Space and launch segments
  • Department of the Interior (DOI) U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): Ground segment and mission operations after launch
  • Spacecraft bus: Orbital ATK
  • Operational Land Imager Sensor-2: Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp.
  • Thermal Infrared Sensor-2: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


  • Date: December 2020
  • Vehicle: Launch services will be procured competitively through the Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
  • Launched by: NASA
  • Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California


The Landsat 9 spacecraft handles power, propulsion, solid state recorder (SSR), space to ground communications, and housekeeping.

  • Design Life: 5 years
  • Consumables: 10 years


  • Science Data Downlink: 384 Mbps on X-band frequency
  • Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Systems: S-band frequency


  • Worldwide Reference System-2 (WRS-2) path/row system
  • Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 438 miles (705 km)
  • 233 orbit cycle; covers the entire globe every 16 days (except for the highest polar latitudes)
  • Inclined 98.2°
  • Circles the Earth every 98.9 minutes
  • Speed:  16,760 mph (26,972 km/hr)
  • Equatorial crossing time: 10:00 a.m. +/- 15 minutes


Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2)

The OLI-2 design is a copy of Landsat 8’s OLI, and will provide visible and near infrared / shortwave infrared (VNIR/SWIR) imagery consistent with previous Landsat spectral, spatial, radiometric and geometric qualities. OLI-2 will provide data for nine spectral bands with a maximum ground sampling distance (GSD), both in-track and cross track, of 30-meters(m) (98 feet) for all bands except the panchromatic band, which has a 15-meters (49 feet) GSD. OLI-2 will provide both internal calibration sources to ensure radiometric accuracy and stability, as well as the ability to perform solar and lunar calibrations.

  • Nine spectral bands:
    • Band 1 Visible (0.43 - 0.45 µm) 30-m
    • Band 2 Visible (0.450 - 0.51 µm) 30-m
    • Band 3 Visible (0.53 - 0.59 µm) 30-m
    • Band 4 Red (0.64 - 0.67 µm) 30-m
    • Band 5 Near-Infrared (0.85 - 0.88 µm) 30-m
    • Band 6 SWIR 1(1.57 - 1.65 µm) 30-m
    • Band 7 SWIR 2 (2.11 - 2.29 µm) 30-m
    • Band 8 Panchromatic (PAN) (0.50 - 0.68 µm) 15-m
    • Band 9 Cirrus (1.36 - 1.38 µm) 30-m


Thermal Infrared Sensor-2 (TIRS-2)

Landsat 9’s Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2) will measure thermal radiance emitted from the land surface in two thermal infrared bands using the same technology that was used for TIRS on Landsat 8, however TIRS-2 will be an improved version of Landsat 8’s TIRS, both with regards to instrument risk class and design to minimize stray light.  TIRS-2 will provide two spectral bands with a maximum ground sampling distance, both in-track and cross track, of 100 m (328 ft) for both bands. TIRS-2 provides an internal blackbody calibration source as well as space view capabilities.

  • Two spectral bands:
    • Band 10 TIRS 1 (10.6 - 11.19 µm) 100-m
    • Band 11 TIRS 2 (11.5 - 12.51 µm) 100-m

Other Characteristics

  • Scene size: 170 km x 185 km (106 mi x 115 mi)
  • Design Life: 5 years


Details about the spacecraft and instruments


Landsat 9 Milestones 

September 24-25, 2018 - Landsat 9 Ground System Critical Design Review (GCDR) successful

A successful Landsat 9 Ground System Critical Design Review (GCDR) was held. The review, evaluated by a NASA Ground Goddard Standing Review Team, met all the criteria for critical design, and in several cases, included content that was beyond the required criteria for his review. One official request for action and a small number of advisories were received. These will be addressed as Landsat 9 remains on track for a December 2020 launch.

Strengths of the GCDR review included low technical risk, talented team, good implementation of lessons learned, excellent relationship between NASA and USGS teams, and thorough programmatic processes. One of the next major milestones in the Landsat 9 mission development and lifecycle will be the Mission Operations Review which will occur in the summer of 2019.


August 22, 2018 - Landsat 9 Ground System Element Critical Design Reviews (CDR) successfully completed

Landsat 9 Ground System Element Critical Design Reviews (CDR) were successfully completed in June, July and August for three elements of the ground system: the Landsat Multi-Satellite Operations Center (LMOC), the Ground Network Element (GNE), and the Data Processing and Archive System (DPAS).

The Landsat 9 Ground System Critical Design Review (GCDR) will be hosted by the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center on September 24-25, 2018. A NASA Ground Goddard Standing Review Team (Ground GSRT) will evaluate the technical design and associated programmatics as per NASA GSFC STD-1001-A success criteria. 

Visit this page for more information. 


May 23, 2018 - Landsat 9 OLI-2 Instrument Focal Plane Integration

Photos recently shared by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, CO show technicians working on Landsat 9’s Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) instrument in the cleanroom during focal plane integration. The focal plane is where OLI-2 detectors are located and where the radiances to be measured are incident. This “push-broom” design is similar to OLI onboard Landsat 8 which results in a more sensitive instrument providing improved land surface information with fewer moving parts. All focal plane integration photos can be viewed on NASA’s Landsat Science webpage.


April 17-20, 2018 - Landsat 9 Mission Critical Design Review
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

The Landsat 9 Mission Critical Design Review was held April 17-20, 2018 at  NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA and USGS scientists and engineers provided the Standing Review Board (SRB) a status on all segments including the spacecraft, instruments, launch vehicle, and ground system to date.

The SRB had high praise for the accomplishments and the strengths of the Landsat 9 project team. Highlights noted included the high degree of experience and expertise throughout the project, the close working relationship among agency team members, the project’s strong technical maturity, the cost and schedule performance to date, the maturity of plans going forward, and exemplary use of lessons learned. The SRB assigned one request for action (RFA) related to USGS funding reserve levels.

The successful meeting demonstrated the team’s preparedness as it moves closer to a Landsat 9 launch.


March 20-22, 2018 – Landsat 9 Ground System Preliminary Design Review
USGS EROS - Sioux Falls, SD

The USGS and NASA held a Landsat 9 Ground System Preliminary Design Review (GPDR) on March 20-22, 2018 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  The GPDR, which contains the Data Processing and Archive System (DPAS), Ground Network Element (GNE) and Landsat Multi-Satellite Operations Center (LMOC) components, demonstrated that the proposed design of each component satisfies the required functional and performance requirements to continue the Landsat 9 development process.

USGS and NASA personnel reviewed DPAS technical criteria, the preliminary relationship of the GNE design to the requirements, interface designs, integration and test methods, and LMOC programmatic material. Two programmatic requests-for-actions (RFA) were recorded, neither critical to the success of the outcome of the GPDR.

With the GPDR a success, the Ground System can now proceed to the Critical Design Review, which is  planned for Fall 2018 – continuing to ensure the Landsat 9 mission remains on schedule for a launch readiness date of December 2020.


February 26 – March 1, 2018 – Landsat 9 Spacecraft Critical Design Review
Orbital ATK facility - Gilbert, AZ

Orbital ATK has been given approval to begin building the NASA Landsat 9 spacecraft after completing a comprehensive design review of the mission. Orbital ATK is designing and manufacturing the satellite, integrating two science 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. Landsat 9 is scheduled for a late 2020 launch and 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 also built Landsat 8, which was launched in 2013.

View the complete Orbital ATK press release.

February 8, 2018  Landsat Multi-Satellite Operations Center (LMOC) Systems Preliminary Design Review
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

The Systems Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the first Landsat Multi-Satellite Operations Center (LMOC) took place at Goddard Space Flight Center on February 8, 2018. The review resulted in eight Request for Actions (RFAs) and four advisories.  This is excellent, especially given that the LMOC contract was awarded only about seven months ago. The panel especially commented on the maturity of the technical design and the technical depth of the team.

February 1-2, 2018 — Landsat 9 Data Processing and Archive System Preliminary Design Review
USGS EROS - Sioux Falls, SD

The Landsat 9 Data Processing and Archive System (DPAS) Preliminary Design Review (PDR) was held at USGS EROS on February 1 and 2, 2018.  The team demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the DPAS, associated dependencies, and low risk approach resulting in nearly a flawless review.

November 30, 2017 — Landsat 9 Ground Network Element Preliminary Design Review
USGS EROS - Sioux Falls, SD

The Landsat 9 Ground Network Element (GNE) Preliminary Design Review (PDR) took place at the USGS EROS Center on November 30, 2017.  The GNE will provide reliable communication services with the Landsat 9 spacecraft and route data appropriately within the Landsat 9 Ground System (GS). 

The GNE began preliminary design work last spring, and the GNE PDR demonstrated progress toward a final design.  It was the first of three Landsat 9 GS Element PDRs, the others taking place in January 2018 for the Landsat Multi-satellite Operations Center (LMOC) and in February 2018 for the Data Processing and Archive System (DPAS).  PDRs demonstrate how proposed designs meet functional and performance requirements. 

A NASA-led board, with representatives from NOAA and USGS, reviewed technical criteria, preliminary relationship of the design to the requirements, interface designs, and integration and test methods. With this successful PDR, the GNE will now proceed to the critical design phase, and a fall 2018 GNE Critical Design Review (CDR).  This GNE PDR helps ensure the entire Landsat 9 mission remains on track for a December 2020 launch.

October 19, 2017 — Launch Services Contract Awarded

NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC (ULS) of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the Landsat 9 mission. The mission is currently on track to launch as early as December 2020, on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. See for more information.

September 12-14, 2017  Landsat 9 Mission Preliminary Design Review
Annapolis, MD

The Landsat 9 Mission Preliminary Design Review (PDR) held September 12-14 allowed an independent Standing Review Board (SRB) to assess the collective integration of every major component of the Landsat 9 mission through the preliminary design phase.  

The SRB saw no issues, and confirmed satisfaction with the technical maturity of the major components of the mission—the spacecraft, the Operational Land Imager-2 and Thermal Infrared Sensor-2, the launch vehicle, and the ground system. The board was also complimentary toward how well the Landsat 9 team is integrated between NASA and the USGS.

This successful PRD allows the team to move forward to Key-Decision Point C (KDP-C), which will formally transition the project to the implementation phase. Review and approval of KDP-C is scheduled for December 6, 2017.

February 28 - March 1, 2017 — Landsat 9 Spacecraft Systems Review
Orbital ATK facility - Gilbert, AZ

An independent panel reviews the work of the spacecraft vendor to understand system requirements in a number of areas, including being able to control the orientation of Landsat 9 through attitude control, how much redundancy is built into the spacecraft, and how much fuel will be onboard. Reviewers analyze at fault management capabilities, which include hardware and software features used to address any potential problems that may arise in orbit. This is the final such review before full-scale spacecraft design and development begins.

February 23, 2017 — Landsat 9 Thermal Instrument Review
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

The Landsat 9 Thermal Infrared Sensor -2 (TIRS-2) Critical Design Review (CDR) includes a key design area important in the review for USGS staff: the addition of baffles on the TIRS-2  telescope to help eliminate a stray light issue that occurred with Landsat 8’s Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS)after launch.  The CDR also looks at changes being made in the Scene Select Mechanism encoder electronics to address surges in current levels that have occurred with TIRS on Landsat 8. An independent review panel comprised of NASA, USGS,  contractor, and university experts in the field are reviewing  a number of other design areas, including scheduling, the ability to accomplish certain requirements, deadlines, and meet financial targets.

The Landsat Science Team addresses the science goals of the Landsat missions.

In accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), specifics of the mission are source selection sensitive. Information will be released as appropriate on this page.


Landsat 1 Landsat 2 Landsat 3 Landsat 4 Landsat 5 Landsat 6 Landsat 7 Landsat 8 Landsat 9