Falcon 9 launches Taiwanese remote sensing satellite

Taiwan launches first homegrown satellite

Weighing in at about a half-ton, or 475 kilograms, the Formosat 5 satellite doubles as an orbiting observatory to look down on Earth and as a pathfinder for Taiwan's future space ambitions.

It's hard to believe it was less than two years ago that a SpaceX Falcon 9 landing was an elusive and unprecedented achievement. As of now, the company has already re-flown two of its used Falcon 9 boosters. Thursday's launch also marked the 40th Falcon 9 flight overall since SpaceX debuted the first version of the launcher in June 2010.

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

One is an optical imaging payload capable of resolving features as small as 2 meters - about 6.6 feet - in black-and-white. It also carries an ionospheric science instrument developed by a Taiwanese university. "The [yesterday's] launch could be said to be 'sharpening a sword in 10 years, '" National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) president Wang Yeong-her (王永和) said.

SpaceX is not a country, but if it were the company would be tied with Russian Federation for the most orbital launches of 2017. 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. The choice to land in the ocean has sparked curiosity among fans after photos suggested that SpaceX's West coast landing zone is complete and all necessary permits and environmental impact reviews have been successfully completed.

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

Vandenberg's next Falcon 9 rocket reportedly is targeting September 30, with another 10 Iridium Next communication satellites ready to head to space.

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