SpaceX to launch Taiwanese satellite, land rocket stage

Mandy Carr
August 26, 2017

It was a roundtrip today for SpaceX's Falcon 9.

A diagram illustrating Formosat being encapsulated in Falcon 9's payload fairing.

The Formosat-5, an Earth observation satellite built by Taiwan's National Space Organization, successfully deployed more than 11 minutes after liftoff.

What's more, SpaceX's mission was to send the first exclusively-made Taiwanese satellite to space.

SpaceX just loves to land their rockets.

But the pre-launch worries faded Thursday with an on-target launch directly into Formosat 5's planned operating perch around 450 miles (720 kilometers) above Earth. People can't wait to see FORMOSAT-5 provide service in orbit.

The satellite, a successor to Formosat-2, is created to send down high-resolution Earth imagery for five years.

"This is the 15th successful landing of a Falcon 9", said Lauren Lyons, the SpaceX webcast launch commentator. The company also plans to launch another used booster in September. The success of the first contact marks a milestone of FORMOSAT-5.

The Falcon 9's upper stage was programmed to reignite its engine later Thursday for a de-orbit burn to burn up in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

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SpaceX has always been obsessed with reducing the cost of spaceflight by employing reusable rockets that can launch multiple missions. Pacific Time on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The Air Force's Western Range manages tracking and support infrastructure at Vandenberg.

The satellite first communicated with a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, 83 minutes after its launch.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 is slated to lift off at 2:51PM ET. The camera has half that resolution in color mode. "The transient and long-term variations of ionospheric plasma can be monitored as seismic precursors associated with earthquakes". The historic launch marked the 12th one for SpaceX so far - the most number of launches for the Elon Musk-owned company and the most rockets fired off by any other space company or country in the world thus far.

SpaceX is not a country, but if it were the company would be tied with Russian Federation for the most orbital launches of 2017.

Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted American Institute in Taiwan chairman James Moriarty as saying yesterday's successful launch could present the possibility of future scientific collaborations between Taiwan and the US.

Moments before the first-stage touchdown the video link to the vessel froze, then reappeared and showed the rocket standing.

Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete-targeting launch of FORMOSAT-5 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg AFB on August 24.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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