The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) undergoes testing at the Orbital Science Corporation's Gilbert, Ariz., location. NASA image taken August 7, 2012.
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) undergoes testing at the Orbital Science Corporation’s Gilbert, Ariz., location. NASA image taken August 7, 2012.

 

In two weeks, I’ll be attending a NASA Social at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The event is a two-day affair featuring the launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission

What is Landsat? It is “the longest running enterprise for acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth,” states Wikipedia, and a joint effort between NASA and USGS. It was Google Earth before there was Google. Learn more about the program on the USGS and NASA web pages.

LDCM will be launched with an United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Space Launch Complex 3.

The Landsat program has an interesting Hoosier connection through Vice President Dan Quayle. According to Wikipedia:

In 1989, this transition had not been fully completed when NOAA’s funding for the Landsat program was due to run out (NOAA had not requested any funding, and Congress had appropriated only six months of funding for the fiscal year)[3] and NOAA directed that Landsats 4 and 5 be shut down.[4] The head of the newly formed National Space Council, Vice President Dan Quayle, noted the situation and arranged emergency funding that allowed the program to continue with the data archives intact.

I’m looking forward to my visit and touring the facilities. I’ve had interest in the place since I was a kid, but access is had to obtain. This will be my third live launch (last shuttle mission and Juno being the other two) and my first from the West Coast.

VAFB has often appeared in popular culture, notably in television episodes (The Bionic Woman) and literature (Shuttle Down by G. Harry Stine; it’s a good read). It’s also the home of Project Scoop in the The Andromeda Strain book and 1972 film. The title of this post refers to the fictional Major Mancheck, Project Scoop’s leader.

Following my VAFB visit and launch experiences on Twitter @indygadgetguy starting Feb. 9.

 

Published by Scott Davis

Former newspaper journalist, now government webmaster. Life-long geek.