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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson August 31, 2009

Obama seeks funding for satellites

Landsat is a satellite program, jointly run by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, that has been used for climate research, natural resources management, land development, public safety, homeland security and disaster recovery. It has operated for more than 25 years, with two satellites — Landsat-5, launched in 1984, and Landsat-7, launched in 1999 — still in orbit. But they are operating beyond their planned life and are subject to failure.

To ensure that the program survives, NASA and USGS are developing the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, or LDCM, which is planning to launch a spacecraft in December 2012, according to the Congressional Research Service.

In its fiscal year 2010 proposed budget, the Obama administration sought $120.6 million for LDCM through NASA accounts and $40.2 million through USGS accounts. Between July 14, 2009, and July 17, 2009, a preliminary design review was held in Linthicum, Md. NASA described the event as "successful" — an early milestone for the program.

LDCM won't be ready to launch for a few years, but the promise was simply to "support" the program. The Obama administration has done that, seeking funding for it. We consider it a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Congressional Research Service, "Landsat and the Data Continuity Mission," May 22, 2009,

NASA, "LDCM Preliminary Design Review Held," July 18, 2009

E-mail interview with John Pike, director of, Aug. 24, 2009

E-mail interview with James Andrew Lewis, director and senior fellow of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Aug. 24, 2009

E-mail interview with John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, Aug. 24, 2009

E-mail interview with Edward Ellegood, space policy analyst at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Aug. 24, 2009

E-mail interviews with Keith Cowing of, Aug. 24-25, 2009

E-mail interview with Marcia Smith of, Aug. 25, 2009

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