Up, up, and away. The newest Landsat satellite lifted off into outer space at 12:02 CST Monday afternoon.
"It went up on a picture perfect day in California out of Vandenberg Air Force Base. It launched in a southerly direction out over the Pacific Ocean and right now it's heading down toward Antarctica," EROS Director Frank Kelly said.
Several people anxiously waited for the launch at EROS Data Center. Scientists are pushing for this spacecraft to last five years, but there's enough fuel onboard to last ten. Some Landsat satellites have orbited even longer.
"Landsat 5 had a three-year design life, but it lasted 28 years. If we're real stingy with our fuel and make sure we do things right, we're hoping to get more than ten years out of this mission," Kelly said.
These missions do not come cheap; the new Landsat satellite cost an estimated $855 million.
"The utility from what we get from the satellite has been characterized at about a billion dollars a year is what it adds back into our economy," Kelly said.
With the Landsat satellite successfully making it into space and orbiting the Earth, people at EROS say now is when the data comes rolling in and the scientists are going to get busy.
"Scientists here are just really excited to be able to have the new channels, more images and better fidelity to be coming in here," Kelly said.
"I'm looking forward to some really decent imagery, really super crisp compared to what some of it has been in the past so that allows me to be able to keep telling that story of chance," EROS scientist Roger Auch said.
Auch is a land use scientist at EROS. He says the new sharper imagery will tell stories of what is happening geographically, stories that could impact people around the world.