The LANDSAT Program

(Created by Thomas Alcorn, History 135, August 2007)

Assignment    Background    Chronology    Links    Further Reading


October 4, 1957

Sputnik I (Russian) is launched. About the size of a basketball, the first artificial Earth satellite weighs 184 pounds and takes about 98 minutes to complete one orbit.

January 31, 1958

The United States launches its first satellite, the 30.8-pound Explorer 1.

April 12, 1961

First Man in Space: Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyyevich Gagarin aboard the Vostok 1 Spacecraft

August 14, 1966

U.S. Lunar Orbiter 1 enters moon orbit, and takes the first picture of the Earth from the distance of the moon.

December 21, 1968

Apollo 8 flight to the moon. As the ship travels outward, the crew focuses a portable television camera on Earth and for the first time humanity sees its home from afar, a tiny "blue marble" hanging in the blackness of space.

July 20, 1969

First Manned Moon Landing: Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. became the first humans to set foot on another world.

November 13, 1971

American space probe Mariner 9 is the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, Mars. 100% of the Martian surface is mapped over the next year.

July 23, 1972

Landsat-1 Launched

May 14, 1973

First U.S. Space Station: Skylab is launched.

May 17, 1974

NASA launches the first Synchronous Meteorological Satellite, SMS-1.

January 22, 1975

Landsat-2 Launched


NASA changes ERTS program name to Landsat.

August-Septeber, 1977

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are launched to meet with Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980.

January 6, 1978

Landsat-1 Decomissioned

March 5, 1978

Landsat-3 Launched

April 12, 1981

First Space Shuttle Columbia is launched.

February 25, 1982

Landsat-2 Decomissioned

July 16, 1982

Landsat-4 Launched

March 31, 1983

Landsat-3 Decomissioned

March 1, 1984

Landsat-5 Launched

July 17, 1984

Land Remote Sensing Commercialization Act : Facilitated the commercialization of the Federal Government's civilian land remote-sensing satellite system, known as Landsat.

October, 1985

EOSAT takes control of Landsat-4 and Landsat-5.

April 24, 1990

Hubble Space Telescope is launched. While the telescope is successfully deployed, the primary mirror is seriously flawed resulting in fuzzy images.

October 28, 1992

Land Remote Sensing Policy Act: Authorized the procurement of Landsat 7 and assured the continued availability of Landsat digital data and images.

October 5, 1993

Landsat-6 Launch failure

December 14, 1993

Landsat-4 Set to "Standby"


EOSAT acquired by Space Imaging

May 18, 1996

X Prize competition announced: 10 Million dollars to the first person or team to safely launch and land a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to a suborbital altitute or 100km and repeat the trip again within two weeks. This contest is designed to inspire and jumpstart civilian and commercial space programs.

April 15, 1999

Landsat-7 Launched

August 2001

Landsat-5 MSS powered off

July 1, 2001

Space Imaging relinquishes Landsat commercial rights and operational control of Landsats 4 and 5 to USGS.

December 15, 2001

Landsat-4 Decomissioned

November 1, 2005

Landsat-5 TM ops suspended

January 12, 2006

Space Imaging aquired by ORBIMAGE. The combined company was rebranded as GEOEYE, the world's largest commercial remote-sensing company.

January 30, 2006

Landsat-5 Resumed TM ops


Proposed LDCM Launch Date

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