Atlas V accelerated using 860,000 pounds of thrust while performing the pitch and yaw maneuvers off the launch pad to obtain the proper heading, en route to a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit to deploy Landsat 9.
The launch is on track for September 27 from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base. Launch is planned for 11:11 a.m. PDT. The live launch broadcast starts at 10:30 a.m. PDT on September 27 at www.ulalaunch.com.
Landsat 9 is a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In addition to Landsat 9, this mission includes the ESPA Flight System (EFS) that will deploy multiple cubesats after Landsat 9 separation. The Atlas V will deploy the Landsat 9 and the smallsats into two different orbits, enabling the first, four-burn, Centaur mission for ULA on an Atlas V rocket. The Centaur upper stage has the capacity for increased performance, and the flight design of the Landsat 9 mission takes advantage of that capability.
The mission will launch on an Atlas V 401 configuration rocket that includes a 13.7 ft. (4 meters) Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF) and stands 194 ft. (59 meters) tall. The Atlas booster for this mission is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.
This will be the 88th launch of the Atlas V rocket and 20th mission launched on an Atlas V in partnership with NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP). This launch is the 300th Atlas launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base. To date, ULA has launched 144 times with 100 percent mission success.
“We are proud to continue to serve as the primary launch provider for Landsat missions. ULA and our heritage launch vehicles have launched every Landsat mission since 1972,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “The Landsat series provides outstanding data for Earth environment and science-based research and Landsat 9 will add to these capabilities. We have worked alongside our partners, in a challenging health environment, to prepare to launch this important mission that will empower Earth research from space for decades to come.”