The Landsat satellite was boosted into orbit by an Atlas V rocket shortly before 11:30 a.m. local time, more than an hour after lifting off from the seaside Vandenberg Air Force Base under mostly clear skies.
Mission controllers tracked the rocket's path as it streaked in a southwesterly direction over the Pacific and climbed into space.
The $855 million mission is the latest in a string of satellites that has kept a continuous eye on Earth's natural resources from space.
Since the first Landsat launch in 1972, the satellites have been key witnesses to history, documenting the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Through the years, the Landsat satellites have monitored drought conditions, global crop output, shrinking glaciers and the effects of urban sprawl.