SpaceX Launches Earth-Observing Satellite, Lands Rocket on Ship at Sea

26 August, 2017, 01:24 | Author: Devin Moran
  • The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Max Q the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure

After a successful slew of launches that began earlier this year, Elon Musk's rocket venture company has just launched a Taiwanese Earth-observation satellite called FORMOSAT-5 into space aboard a reused Falcon 9. The event will be streamed live.

But getting Formosat-5 aloft was the main point of today's mission.

Two SpaceX rocket mishaps over the last two years also contributed to the delays.

SpaceX has always been obsessed with reducing the cost of spaceflight by employing reusable rockets that can launch multiple missions.

Formosat-5 is the first satellite to be fully designed by Taiwan's space agency and is meant to advance the nation's space technology and scientific research while providing global imagery with a wide array of uses ranging from natural resource studies to disaster management.


The FORMOSAT-5 satellite is created to operate in a sun-synchronous orbit about 447 miles (720 kilometers) above Earth. As of now, the company has already re-flown two of its used Falcon 9 boosters. The 42-minute launch window opens at 2:51pm ET. After many years of delays, SpaceX had instead arranged for the satellite to be launched as a co-passenger alongside Spaceflight Industries' first SHERPA launch, an orbital tug and dispenser that would have placed approximately 90 satellites of different sizes into unique orbits.

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.

FORMOSAT-5 was launched on August 25, 2017 at 2:50 a.m. Taiwan time from Vandenberg Air Force Base by Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch took place on site in Vandenberg, California and the rocket landed on SpaceX's drone ship 10 minutes after it took off.

NSPO Deputy Director-General Yu Shiann-jen (余憲政) on Monday defended the satellite's development, saying: "Formosat-5 is capable of delivering colorful imagery and resolve down to 4m, better than the 8m of Formosat-2".

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