Most of the Earth science satellites developed or operated by NASA during the last few decades, including the new Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The newest satellite in the venerable Landsat program launched from this spot along the central California coast on Feb. 11, 2013, following the path of its seven predecessors. LDCM is extending and expanding a 41-year record of land observations.
Vandenberg is NASA’s preferred launch site for satellites that are headed into polar orbits. The Air Force base sits on a parcel of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, allowing rockets to launch to the south without flying over populated areas. Satellites that are headed into a west-east orbit are typically launched from Kennedy Space Center.
Images courtesy of NASA.