SpaceX has launched a Taiwanese Earth-observation satellite into space.
A Falcon 9 carrying the Formosat-5 satellite lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 11:51 a.m. PDT on Aug. 24. The rocket’s reusable first stage was landed 10 minutes later on a drone ship called Just Read the Instructions, floating off the California coast in the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., has begun regularly returning boosters to launch platforms on the land or sea, unless a heavy payload carries inordinate thrust requirements that preclude first-stage landings.
SpaceX — which has successfully launched 12 rockets so far this year — has begun reusing its returned boosters and hopes to make the majority of its Falcon 9 first stages reusable.
The Formosat-5 is considered a relatively light satellite. The FormoSat program is run by Taiwan’s National Space Organization and dates from 1991.
The Formosat-5 is the first remote-sensing satellite developed domestically in Taiwan.