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Decatur-made rocket lifts off
By Eric Fleischauer
The Decatur Daily

Associated Press/Bill Ingalls/NASA
The United Launch Alliance's Decatur-built Atlas-V rocket with the Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft onboard is seen as it launches today.

A Decatur-built United Launch Alliance rocket lifted off at 12:02 p.m. CST today from California, carrying an Earth observation satellite.

The two-stage Atlas V rocket carried a Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft.

As of 12:12 p.m., the rocket was traveling at 12,800 mph and mission control reported all systems were working perfectly.

The Landsat mission, five years and $855 million in the making, is a partnership between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. After three months of in-orbit testing, the satellite will be named Landsat 8 and USGS will take over operational control. The satellite will record a constant stream of data as the spacecraft passes 438 miles overhead in a near-circular, near-polar orbit.

NASA has launched six Landsat satellites since 1972. Landsat 7, the most recent in the series, launched in April 1999.

Today’s launch was the first since the formation of United Launch Alliance.

The ULA plant in Decatur that built the Atlas V employs about 800 workers.

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