Falcon rocket with satellite for Taiwan launches from Vandenberg

Posted August 25, 2017

According to SpaceX, the satellite will "promote space science experiments and research to enhance Taiwan's self-reliant space technology capabilities, and to continue to serve the users of FORMOSAT-2's global imagery services".

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Taiwanese Earth-observation satellite today (Aug. 24) and then came back down for a pinpoint landing on a ship at sea. SpaceX, during the launch webcast, declared the launch a success. That's more rockets than other country or space company in the world, including the rocket juggernaut Russian Federation, who has launched 11 rockets so far this year.

Moments later the rocket's second stage deployed the satellite into low-Earth orbit. The 450-kilogram spacecraft was the first such satellite built domestically by Taiwan, and succeeds Formosat-2, retired a year ago.

Its main instrument is a sensor that produces high-resolution black-and-white and colour images.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Formosat-5 Earth-observation satellite on August 24, 2017.

SpaceX previously planned to fly a secondary payload, the Sherpa bus from Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, which would have deployed almost 90 small satellites after separating from the Falcon 9 upper stage.

SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean during the launch of an Earth-observation satellite for Taiwan.

Vandenberg's next Falcon 9 rocket reportedly is targeting September 30, with another 10 Iridium Next communication satellites ready to head to space. This was the 15th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage in 40 liftoffs, and the ninth to land on a ship.