Artist’s illustration of the Landsat 9 satellite in orbit. Credit: NASA/GSFC
The launch of the next Landsat land imaging mission — a joint project between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey — has been delayed until around September 2021 after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic slowed work on the spacecraft in Arizona, NASA officials said.
The Landsat 9 satellite is the next in a series of land imaging missions launched since 1972, collecting views from space of urban sprawl, tropical deforestation, retreating glaciers, and changes in coral reefs, crops, and tectonic faults.
Previously scheduled for launch in April 2021, the Landsat 9 mission is now expected to launch in September 2021, according to Jacob Richmond, a spokesperson for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“The Landsat 9 observatory integration is well underway, overcoming earlier spacecraft development delays that had moved the launch date into 2021,” Richmond said in response to questions from Spaceflight Now. “The pandemic has interfered with the efficiency of this work, inhibiting critical project team travel to the Northrop Grumman Space System facility in Gilbert, Arizona.”
NASA officials previously planned to launch the Landsat 9 satellite in December 2020. The mission’s $885 million budget ...