This report discusses the U.S. Landsat Mission, which has collected remotely sensed imagery of the Earth's surface for more than 35 years. The two satellites currently in orbit are operating beyond their designed life and may fail at any time. Most Landsat data is used by federal agencies. Efforts to commercialize Landsat operations have not been successful. This report discusses issues facing Congress regarding funding for new Landsat satellites.
Some policymakers have concluded that the energy challenges facing the United States are so critical that a concentrated investment in energy research and development (R&D) should be undertaken. The Manhattan project, which produced the atomic bomb, and the Apollo program, which landed American men on the moon, have been cited as examples of the success such R&D investments can yield. Investment in federal energy technology R&D programs of the 1970s, in response to two energy crises, have generally been viewed as less successful than the earlier two efforts. This report compares and contrasts the goals of, and the investments in, the three initiatives, which may provide useful insights for Congress as it assesses and debates the nation's energy policy.