NASA has awarded Colorado-based Ball Aerospace and Technologies a $127.9m cost-plus-award-fee contract with options to develop the Operational Land Imager instrument for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM).

Ball Aerospace will design, develop, manufacture and integrate the one flight-model instrument, which will be used to capture images in the visible and near-infrared spectra.

Under the agreement, Ball Aerospace will also test, deliver and provide after sales support and five years of on-orbit support for the instrument. There are five one-year options for the extension of basic on-orbit support.

The LDCM, the successor to Landsat 7, is scheduled for launch by July 2011. It will be able to detect changes on the global land surface at a scale where natural and man-made causes of change can be differentiated.

If all options are exercised, the contract could last until 2021.