Leading Landsat's Satellite Ground Systems and Operations
When you look at imagery sent to Earth by the USGS Landsat 8 satellite, you will see the work done by the General Dynamics and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team. The USGS selected General Dynamics Mission Systems as the prime contractor to build the new Landsat Multi-satellite Operations Center (LMOC), where the team operates today’s Landsat 8 and future Landsat 9 missions.
Landsat represents the world's longest, continuously acquired collection of space-based, moderate resolution, land remote sensing data. Initiated in 1966, millions of sensor images document and provide a free resource of documenting agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global change research. Landsat images also provide life-saving information for emergency response and disaster relief operations.
Landsat 8 launched on February 11, 2013, and is the eighth satellite in the Landsat program. Landsat 9 is set to launch in 2020. As a joint initiative between the USGS and NASA, the Landsat Project supports government, commercial, civilian, military, and educational communities and initiatives throughout the United States and worldwide.
In addition to assuming day-to-day flight and operations management of Landsat 8, the General Dynamics/USGS team will begin building the new LMOC at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. It will be a technologically advanced mission operations center managing two Landsat missions simultaneously.
“We have been working closely with our Landsat customers at USGS and NASA for more than 28 years and that relationship has created an unprecedented level of trust and confidence - they know what we can do because we’ve been working side-by-side for a long time.“ - Vic Gehr, General Dynamics Program Manager
In addition to flying Landsat 8 and building the new LMOC, our team will also plan, integrate, test and document all the hardware, software and training needed to move Landsat 9 from production, to prelaunch, launch, post-launch, and day-to-day flight operations.
Whether it is supporting missions that monitor the Earth, like Landsat, or those traveling into deep space, our ground-segment operations make sure manned and unmanned spacecraft stay in touch with Earth, continuing their missions, often for decades at a time.
Our relationship with space has changed dramatically since the first words were heard from the Moon in 1969. Space above Earth is now a complex array of more than 2,200 satellites, not including space debris made up of spent rocket boosters, dead satellites and a wrench or two from space walks and repairs. And, more satellites, large and small, are launching all the time.
In 1997, engineers at General Dynamics designed and built a transponder, or radio, that would travel aboard the Cassini spacecraft, the nation’s first full-scale mission to explore Saturn. After reaching Saturn, the Cassini mission was to last only four years. Almost twenty years after launch, the spacecraft crashed into Saturn’s gaseous surface after sending millions of images, and textbooks worth of scientific data to Earth, helping reveal the secrets of Saturn’s rings and moons.
NASA’s twin spacecraft, Voyager I and II are exploring where nothing from earth has ever flown before. The initial goal of the Voyager mission was a 12-year effort to explore Jupiter and Saturn, but due to the success of the spacecraft and a planetary alignment that occurs about every 175 years it has been extended for the last 40 years to explore Uranus and Neptune and even to the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain, and beyond.