SpaceX to launch Taiwanese satellite, land rocket stage

Tomas Mccoy
August 26, 2017

Launch officials say the Falcon 9 will place Taiwan's Formosat 5 scientific satellite into orbit.

SpaceX launched the satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly before noon. The event will be streamed live.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage successfully landed on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

He extended his congratulations and appreciation to the NSPO's Formosat-5 team and the SpaceX launch team for their efforts. Additionally, SpaceX has finally started reusing the rockets it has recovered, sending two previously flown boosters into space this year. The company has launched more rockets this year than any other year before, and we still have about five months to go. SpaceX also had a couple of high-profile accidents, including a second-stage failure during a launch in 2015, and a launch pad accident in 2016.

Moments later, Formosat 5 flew free from the Falcon 9's upper stage. The launch was delayed several times, though, and SpaceX ultimately phased out its lighter rockets.

Taiwan's National Space Organization, the country's space agency, originally paid SpaceX around $23 million in 2010 for the launch, less than half of the advertised price of a Falcon 9 launch today. Both SpaceX and Russian Federation have launched 11 successful orbital missions this year, followed by China with eight and European firms at six. Much smaller than Falcon 9, the original choice of launch vehicle made more sense given the satellite's small mass of approximately 500 kilograms.

Next up for SpaceX's bi-coastal launch team is another Falcon 9 flight scheduled to blast off September 7 from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX on Thursday launched the first satellite designed and built entirely in Taiwan, a spacecraft that aims to boost disaster forecasts and mapping, environmental observation and space research.

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