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A new agreement provides $220 million for development and construction of the Landsat 6 remote sensing satellite and its ground systems. The contract, signed on March 31, 1988, by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Earth Observation Satellite (EOSAT) Company of Lanham, Md., came just days after approval of DOC's Landsat commercialization plan by subcommittees of the House and Senate appropriations committees.

The Landsat 6 spacecraft is due to be launched into orbit on a Titan II rocket in June 1991 from Vandenburg Air Force Base, Calif. The satellite will carry an Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) sensor, an instrument sensitive to electromagnetic radiation in seven ranges or bands of wavelengths. The satellite's payload will also include the Sea Wide Field Sensor (Sea-WiFS), designed to provide information on sea surface temperature and ocean color. The sensor is being developed in a cooperative effort by EOSAT and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A less certain passenger is a proposed 5-m resolution, three-band sensor sensitive to visible light. EOSAT is trying to find both private financing for the device and potential buyers of the high-resolution imagery that it could produce. The company has been actively courting U.S. television networks, which have in the past used imagery from the European Système Probatoire d'Observation de la Terre (SPOT) satellite for news coverage.