Landsat Program Chronology - Completely Information about Satellite image in the World -
Landsat Program Chronology

NASA initiates an Earth Resources Survey (ERS) Program to develop methods for remote sensing of earth resources from space. Dept. of Agriculture joins in the program with studies of remote sensing applications in geology, hydrology, geography and cartography.

Dept. of Commerce begins participation in ERS with the formation of an Environmental Sciences Group within the Environmental Sciences Services Administration (predecessor of NOAA).

Dept. of Interior initiates multi-agency Earth Resources Observation Satellites Program to gather data about natural resources from earth observing satellites carrying remote sensing instruments.

NASA begins Phase A feasibility studies for an Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS)

Bureau of the Budget (BOB) declines to authorize funds for ERTS construction but provides $2M to continue studies

NASA airborne studies with multispectral scanners continue

An interagency committee formally transmits ERTS design specifications to its members for approval.

NASA approves contract with Hughes for ERTS Multispectral Scanner System (MSS)

Funds approved for an ERTS tracking facility at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)

NASA issues RFP to potential experimenters for use of ERTS A and B data

NASA selects GE as prime contractor for ERTS

RCA awarded contract for ERTS videotape recorders

NASA launches ERTS 1 (Landsat 1)

Debate in government on administration of ERTS Program - is it developmental or operational? Program continued as experimental system through 1979 with NASA and DOI required to ensure continuity of data.

Through 1974, ERTS 1 transmits over 100,000 images covering 75% of the earth's land surface. More than 300 US and foreign investigators received data.

Name of the Program changed by NASA from ERTS to Landsat

Funds for Landsat C included in FY76 budget by President Ford.

NASA launches Landsat 2

The GAO issues a report to Congress recommending that NASA implement a training program for users of Landsat data.

House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology recommends a five year program to assure a more orderly management of earth resources activities.

Landsat 1 operations terminated

NASA launches Landsat 3

Presidential Directive 54 (Carter):

  • Transfers Landsat operations from NASA to NOAA
  • Recommends development of long term operational system with four additional satellites beyond Landsat 3
  • Recommends transition to private sector operation of Landsat

Carter administration begins efforts to commercialize Landsat. Development of commercial market expected to take a decade.

Reagan administration accelerates pace of Landsat commercialization. It rejects the Carter commitment to an operational program and gradual transition to private sector and advocates immediate end to government funding for the program.

Landsat 2 operations terminated

P.L. 97-324 requires Secretary of Commerce to contract three independent studies of mechanisms for transferring Landsat to private sector.

NASA launches Landsat 4; Thematic Mapper era begins

Landsat 3 operations terminated

Studies conducted under P.L. 97-324 conclude that no option exists for commercial operation of Landsat in near or long term without substantial government subsidy.

Proposal to commercialize land and weather satellites submitted to Congress.

P.L. 98-166 prohibits the government from privatizing the operational weather satellites.

P.L. 98-365 establishes the process for commercialization of the land remote sensing satellites:

  • Instrument for commercialization of Landsat system through contract with NOAA
  • DOC allowed to license private remote sensing space systems that comply with the act
  • Landsat data must be made available on a non-discriminatory basis
  • DOC required to maintain archive of land remote sensing data

NASA launches Landsat 5

Earth Observation satellite Company (EOSAT), a partnership of Hughes and RCA, selected by NOAA to operate the Landsat system under a ten year contract. EOSAT:

  • operates Landsats 4 and 5
  • will build two new spacecraft (Landsats 6 and 7)
  • has exclusive rights to market Landsat data collected prior to date of contract (9/27/85) until expiration date (7/16/94)
  • has exclusive right to market data collected after 9/27/85 for ten years from date of acquisition.
  • will receive all foreign ground station fees.
USG to provide $250M for spacecraft development over five years.

Administration recommends limiting government funding for commercialization to $125M.

EOSAT requests change of platform from TIROS to OMNISTAR (Shuttle dependent) for future Landsats. Plan tabled with demise of west coast Shuttle launch capability.

NOAA submits plan to Congress calling for one additional Landsat satellite on a TIROS platform. Congress rejects plan because commitment to only one spacecraft will not build confidence in system or make commercialization viable.

NOAA submits new plan for Landsat, still calling for one more system and study of a second. Congress reluctantly accepts.

EOSAT contract with NOAA re-negotiated to conform to changes in commercialization program. Funding for Landsat 6 released by Congress.

NOAA, knowing that Landsats 4 and 5 are past design life and anticipating end of service, does not request operating funds for Landsat in FY89. Congress adds funding to cover operations for half the fiscal year.

NOAA announces that its funds for Landsat operations are spent and directs EOSAT to turn off the satellites. Action results in strong protest from Congress, foreign and domestic data users, and foreign governments.

National Space Council develops interim funding plan to keep Landsat system operating through the end of fiscal year. NOAA rescinds shutdown order. Space Council also recommends that the President approve a policy statement committing the US to continuity of Landsat-type data.

The President approves policy statement and requests the Space Council to work with OMB on options for continuity of Landsat data after Landsat 6.

NOAA does not request operating funds for Landsat. Congress appropriates enough funds to keep the system operational for six months and requests agencies that use Landsat data re-program sufficient funds to keep system going for the remainder of the year.

Administration does not request funds for follow-on to Landsat 6.

EOSAT relinquishes exclusive right to MSS data more than two years old.

Funding problems and solutions from 1990 repeated in 1991. Administration fails to develop a policy toward Landsat.

National Space Policy Directive #5 drafted and signed by President Bush. The directive reiterates the importance of Landsat data and outlines a strategy to:

  • ensure the operation of Landsats 4 and 5 at least until the launch of Landsat 6
  • acquire and launch Landsat 7 before the projected end-of-life of Landsat 6
  • foster development of advanced land remote sensing systems and opportunities for commercialization
  • minimize cost of Landsat data for USG users and in the US Global Change Research Program
  • limit role of USG in private sector remote sensing to that required for national security, foreign policy and public safety
  • maintain an archive in the US of existing and future Landsat type data
  • consider alternatives for maintaining data continuity after Landsat 7
The DOC is instructed to:
  • complete and launch Landsat 6
  • ensure operation of Landsats 4 and 5 until Landsat 6 becomes operational
DoD and NASA are instructed to:
  • develop and launch Landsat 7 with performance capabilities at least equal to Landsat 6
  • define continuity requirements after Landsat 7
  • prepare a plan, "...which addresses management and funding responsibilities, operations, data archiving and dissemination, and commercial considerations associated with the Landsat program."

NASA and DoD draft and sign "Management Plan for the Landsat Program" The plan:

  • assigns responsibility for the space segment to DoD and responsibility for the ground segment to NASA
  • establishes a Landsat Coordinating Group (NASA and DoD) to coordinate program plans, budgets and policies.
  • establishes baseline funding for each agency for the life of the program - NASA: $410M; DoD: $470M
  • states that any improvement sought beyond the technical capabilities of Landsat 6 will be funded by the sponsoring agency

EOSAT loses capability of processing MSS data. No further acquisition of MSS data at US receiving station planned.

Congress passes, and President Bush signs, the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992. The act recognizes that commercialization of Landsat has not worked and is not likely to work in the future. With that in mind, and acknowledging the importance of Landsat data, the act establishes the Landsat Program Management consisting of NASA, DoD and any other agency the President wishes to name. The law instructs the LPM to:

  • establish a management plan
  • develop a Landsat Advisory Process and report on progress at established intervals
  • procure Landsat 7
  • begin negotiations with contractor on data policy for Landsats 4-6
  • assume Landsat 6 program responsibilities from DOC.
  • develop a data policy for Landsat 7 on the basis of "cost of fulfilling user request"
  • conduct a technology demonstration program
  • assess options for a successor land remote sensing system

DoD signs contract with General Electric (now Martin Marietta Astro Space) for the construction and launch of Landsat 7. High Resolution Multispectral Stereo Imager (HRMSI) is included as option in the contract.

NASA budget appropriation request for $25M for Landsat Program reduced to $10M. Reduction threatens DoD appropriation and participation in the program.

Landsat Advisory Process initiated with first meeting of the Landsat Civil Agency Requirements Working Group.

Funding for HRMSI ground segment not part of NASA FY94 budget request

$15M restored to NASA FY93 budget for Landsat Program

NASA submits request for HRMSI funding as part of New Technology Initiative.

House authorization committee approves $25M for NASA FY94 budget for HRMSI and full funding for baseline program

House appropriations committee approves NASA FY94 baseline budget for Landsat but does not approve any additional funding for HRMSI. HRMSI removed from New Technology Initiative.

House and Senate conference committee fails to add funding for HRMSI to NASA FY94 budget.

DoD receives appropriation in FY94 for HRMSI space segment - no funds for ground segment.

Ocotber 5: Landsat 6 launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Satellite fails to obtain orbit.

OSTP begins working with NASA, DoD and NOAA to define action required in light of Landsat 6 loss.

December 8:
NASA Administrator D. Goldin and Deputy Secretary of Defense J. Deutch agree the two organizations should go separate ways regarding Landsat - NASA to do ETM and DoD to do HRMSI.

Rep. George Brown, Chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology writes Vice President Gore describing the Landsat Program as a "shambles" and expressing his concern for the program's effects on other "convergence" efforts.

February 4:
Vice President Gore responds to Rep. Brown reiterating the Administration's support for Landsat and desire to work with NASA, DoD and NOAA to develop a successful implementation strategy.

February 7:
The National Science and Technology Council votes to recommend continuation of the Landsat Program with the completion of the ETM+ instrument and the Landsat 7 spacecraft. NASA and NOAA are instructed to develop a management plan to implement the recommendation.

February 8:
Representatives from DoD meet with NASA personnel to write a transition plan that will transfer the MMAS contract for Landsat 7 space segment and the remaining FY94 DoD Landsat funds from DoD to NASA. Initial goal is to have the transfer complete by February 28.

February 9:
Congress rescinds all remaining FY94 DoD Landsat funding ($139M) pending resolution of earthquake relief bill.

February 11:
Congress restores $90M in FY94 funding to DoD for Landsat with the stipulation that DoD may transfer up to the full amount to NASA, for Landsat 7 work only, after the NASA Administrator certifies that NASA has suffiecient funding in FY95 and the out years to complete the program.

February 18:
Schedule deadline for exercising HRMSI option. By pre-arrangement in contract, MMAS (and SBRC) stops work on all HRMSI related tasks.

March 1:
DoD sends letter to MMAS terminating selected tasks on Landsat contract.

March 3:
NASA/DoD Landsat transition plan signed and forwarded to OSTP.

First NASA/NOAA/USGS meeting on Landsat ground system held at GSFC.

March 18:
First draft of NASA/NOAA/USGS management plan distributed to participants for comment.

March 23:
Landsat 7 status review held at GSFC

March 29:
ETM+ CDR held at Santa Barbara Research Center. Calibrator door is primary, unresolved technical issue. CDR for the door assembly scheduled for June '94.

April 7:
Second NASA/NOAA/USGS meeting on Landsat ground system held at EDC

April 11:
Landsat Program Management and EOSAT agree to terms for continued operation of Landsats 4 and 5 and a data distribution and pricing schedule that conforms with goals established in PL 102-555.

NASA Administrator certifies funding for Landsat 7 program as required by P.L. 103-211. Notification of certification sent to appropriate congressional committees.

May 10:
White House announces Presidential Decision Directive continuing the Landsat 7 program, re-structuring Landsat Program Management (NASA, NOAA, DOI) and transferring Landsat 7 procurement responsibility from DoD to NASA.

May 18:
MMAS contract for Landsat 7 transferred from DoD to NASA.

June 28:
SBRC subcontract to MMAS for ETM+ separated from MMAS contract and assigned to GSFC.

July 15:
DOC (NOAA) and EOSAT sign modification to contract extending EOSAT operations of Landsat system through December 31, 1994. Extension includes only one provision from the April 11 EOSAT/LPM agreement Ð cost of data reduced to $3500/scene.

July 16:
Original DOC contract with EOSAT for Landsat program operations expires.

August 10:
"Management Plan for the Landsat Program," a docuement describing the program objectives and agency responsibilities is signed by representatives of NASA, NOAA and the US Geological Survey.

September 28:
FY95 Budget for NASA passed by Congress. NASA appropriation includes full amount requested for Landsat 7

November 7:
DOC places notice in Commerce Business Daily of DOC's intent to contract with EOSAT for continued operations of Landsat 4/5 at no cost to the US government. Contract authority would be 41 USC 253 (c)(1), Only One Responsible Source.

DOC notifies EOSAT that, based on expressions of interest in reponse to notice in the Commerce Business Daily, DOC will conduct a competitive procurement for continued operation of Landsats 4 and 5.

EOSAT responds to DOC notification by filing suit in US District Court for the District of Columbia to block the competitve procurement.

DOC and EOSAT sign a contract modification to extend existing contract for operation of Landsat system through February 28, 1995. Two option periods are included that, if exercised, will extend contract through June 30, 1995.

February 27:
DOC exercises first option in contract modification with EOSAT

March 16:
US District Court orders Landsat Program Management to notify congress within 10 days of status of negotiations with EOSAT. Current contract is extended through June 30 and the government is instructed not to take any action toward conducting a competitive procurement.

June 22:
The quarterly meeting of the Landsat Civil Agency Requirements Working Group convened at the offices of the US Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. The major item of discussion was the degradation in the equatorial crossing time for Landsat 5. Review, by Goddard staff, of the risk in performing a maneuver to correct the crossing time, concluded that the risk to the spacecraft was low and the maneuver should be performed. There was general agreement that the maneuver should be performed this fall following conclusion of the growing season in the northern hemisphere.

June 27:
United States District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, in the case of Earth Observation Satellite Company vs. National Aeronautics and Space Administration,, ruled that PL 102-555 (the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992) requires the US government to contract with EOSAT for operation of Landsats 4 and 5. Following the decision, EOSAT announced that it will now honor all provisions of its April 11, 1994 agreement with Landsat Program Management pending formal extension of EOSAT's contract with DOC for operation of Landsats 4 and 5.

August 22:
The Chief, Landsat Commercialization Division - NOAA, sent a letter to the President of EOSAT Corporation requesting EOSAT, as operator of Landsat 5, perform a maneuver to bring the orbital crossing time of Landsat 5 back to the mission standard of 9:45 am +/- 15 minutes. The last maneuver to correct the crossing time was in1992. The crossing time at the end of June, 1995, was approximately 9:18 am and becomming progressively earlier. NOAA requested the manuever be conducted in the fall following the conclusion of the growing season in the northern hemisphere.

November 30, 1995:
EOSAT Corporation completed the last of five maneuvers to correct the equatorial crossing time for Landsat 5. The maneuvers were successful, and the orbit of the satellite is now moving back to the nominal crossing time window of 9:45am +/- 15 minutes at the rate of 4.2 seconds per day. The crossing time will reach 9:30 am in mid-September, 1996 and will peak at 9:56 am in the spring of 1999. Orbital information from before and after the correction maneuver is as follows:

February 8, 1996:
A workshop on the New Millennium Program was held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The New Millennium Program (NMP), is a coordinated NASA/private industry activity incorporating next generation technology. NMP focuses on the demonstration of technologies and techniques which can enable science missions of the future. The program will develop new technologies to improve the performance and decrease the cost of currently scheduled NASA missions, e.g. AM-2. The workshop was called to discuss technical capabilities and requirements for an earth observation satellite to be built under sponsorship of the NMP. The mission was described as a potential opportunity to test new technology for the follow on instrument to the ETM+ on Landsat 7. Workshop participants represented a cross section of scientists who use land satellite observations. They were presented a series of options for the experimental satellite and asked for recommendations. The responses from the participants formed the basis for a proposal for an advanced land imager, a hyperspectral visible and short-wave instrument. The recommendations were forwarded to NASA for consideration under the NMP program.

March 22, 1996:
The cognizant codes at NASA Headquarters reviewed plans for the New Millennium Program and selected the light weight, visible and short-wave infrared imager of the earth's land surface as the focus of the first NMP mission. The instrument selected was the one discussed at the workshop on the NMP on February 8.

April 2-3 1996:
The critical design review for the Landsat 7 ground system was held at Greenbelt, Maryland. No design elements were identified that threaten the successful completion of the ground system or implementation of the system as scheduled. For information on CDR documentation available on line, click here

April 11, 1996:
NASA Headquaters announced the selection of the first mission in the New Millennium Program and described the mission. The first mission will be a land remote sensing satellite - EO-1.

April 15-18, 1996:
The Technical Working Group of the Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group (LGSOWG) met in Annapolis, Maryland It was the second meeting of the technical working group since the LGSOWG meeting in May, 1995. Representatives from 8 stations attended. The status of the action items from the previous meeting was reviewed A summary of the current status of Landsat 7 was presented by the Landsat 7 project manager. Key technical issues were discussed during the meeting including processing of data received from Landsat 7 and metadata and brows file formats and data distribution. New action items were generated as were recommendations to be presented to the LGSOWG meeting in May, 1996.

May 21-24, 1996
The 25th meeting of the Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group (LGSOWG) convened in Pretoria, South Africa. Representatives from 11 ground stations attended. Updates on activities at each ground station were presented, and those attending heard from NASA and NOAA representatives on the status of the Landsat Program. The recommendations from the technical working group were discussed and adopted, including the recommendation that the technical working group meet again next fall to continue its work preparing the ground stations to receive and process and distribute data from Landsat 7. A draft of terms for the agreement that will allow the international ground stations to receive Landsat 7 data was distributed for comment. Negotiations between NOAA and the ground stations will begin next year.

May 23, 1996
The Program Management Council (PMC) of NASA accepted the recommendation from the IAR panel to include systematic processing of Landsat 7 data as part of the Landsat 7 processing system. The action assures data users access to unenhanced data similar to that distributed from the previous Landsat satellites. Under the recommendation, EOSDIS will process and archive all Landsat 7 data acquired at the primary receiving station in the United States as Level 0R and will generate a systematically corrected product (Level 1G) on request from the user. For more information on Landsat 7 data please refer to the Landsat 7 summary.

July 1, 1996
[Excerpts from NASA press release 96-125]
"NASA has selected the team leader and other members of the science team for the future Landsat 7 remote-sensing satellite... The Landsat 7 science team will be led by Dr. Samuel Goward of the University of Maryland in College Park. Other team members are based at universities in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, and New York; the U.S. Geological Survey and Department of Agriculture; and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA. "

July 13, 1997
A major thunderstorm, with hail the size of softballs, caused extensive damage to the EROS Data Center. The antenna installed recently at EDC to receive Landsat 7 data suffered damage that will require several months to repair, but the damage is not expected to delay launch of the system. Information on the storm and pictures of the aftermath at EDC are available on-line.

July 23, 1997
25th anniversary of launch of ERTS-1 (Landsat-1)

October 6, 1997
The Landsat Coordinating Group convened at USGS, Reston VA. Representing the three agencies in Landsat Program Management were W. Townsend (NASA), G. Withee (NOAA) and B. McGregor (USGS). Presentations from staff focused on the Landsat 7 data policy, data pricing policy and the status of the ground system for support of Landsat 7 data acquisition, processing and distribution. The LCG agreed top meet quarterly until the launch of Landsat 7. The next meeting will occur in late January.

October 9, 1997
The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument was delivered to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space in Valley Forge, PA, from Hughes Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. The instrument will undergo further environmental testing at LMMS before integration with the L7 spacecraft. Delivery of the ETM+ maintains the schedule toward a July 9 launch of Landsat 7.

October 31, 1997
The US Geological Survey issued a "Technical Announcement" on prices of Landsat 7 data.. Level 0R scenes will be sold initially for $475 per scene. Level 1R and 1G data products will be sold for no more than $600 per scene. The products are described in the announcement and in the Landsat 7 Data Policy.

December 3-5, 1997:
A conference on "Land Satellite Data in the Next Century II: Sources and Applications" was held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. Approximately 600 attended the conference presented by ASPRS and NARSIA with sponsorship from, inter alia, NASA, NOAA and USGS. Attendees heard the latest on the land satellites scheduled for launch in the next 3-5 years and summaries of major applications of land satellite data.

January 21, 1998:
NASA announced that the "Mission to Planet Earth" enterprise will now be called "Earth Science."

February 4, 1998:
Landsat Coordinating Group convened at Department of Commerce. Minutes of the meeting are available on-line.

February 25, 1998:
NASA partially terminates Clark Earth sciece mission due to mission costs, launch schedule delays and other causes.

February 26, 1998:
Landsat Civil Agency Requirements Working Group convened at NASA Headquarters. Minutes of the meeting are available on-line.

March 12, 1998:
NASA announced a delay in launch of Landsat 7.

April 14-16, 1998:
Landsat Science Team convened at Goddard Space Flight Center. The meeting, co-chaired by Drs. Darrel Williams (NASA/GSFC) and Samuel Goward (University of Maryland), heard updates on research from the team members, updates on the status of Landsat 7 and Resource21, and discussed, among other items, requirements for a post-Landsat 7 system.