Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8

Sketch of Landsat 6 satellite in orbit.

Sketch of Landsat 6 satellite in orbit.

On October 5, 1993 the EOSAT-owned Landsat 6 failed at launch after not reaching the velocity necessary to obtain orbit.

The satellite did not achieve orbit because of a ruptured hydrazine manifold. The separation from the booster rocket occurred properly, however, the ruptured rocket fuel chamber prevented fuel from reaching the apogee kick motor. This failure resulted in the spacecraft tumbling instead of accumulating enough energy to reach its planned orbit. (Read NOAA press release from March 1995.)

Landsat 6 carried an Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM). The ETM sensor would have collected data in the same seven spectral bands and at the same spatial resolutions as the TM instrument on Landsats 4 and 5. The ETM instrument also included an eighth band with a spatial resolution of 15 m. The eighth band was known as the sharpening band or panchromatic band. It was sensitive to light from the green through near infrared wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

In 1993, with Landsats 4 and 5 both beyond their design lives, the loss of Landsat 6, and a nascent Landsat 7 program, it seemed that a data gap was eminent.  Yet, Landsat-5 continued to operate until December 2012, when USGS announced that the satellite would be decommissioned.

More History