SpaceX sticks another vertical rocket landing at sea

Herbert Rhodes
August 26, 2017

Formosat 5 climbed into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which lifted off at 11:51 a.m. PDT (2:51 p.m. EDT; 1851 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The event will be streamed live.

About 10 minutes after the blastoff, SpaceX confirmed that it was able to successfully land the rocket's booster on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 switched off its nine Merlin engines around two-and-a-half minutes into the mission, then detached 60 miles (100 kilometers) over the Pacific Ocean to begin a ballistic plummet toward a remotely-controlled floating barge.

It was a roundtrip today for SpaceX's Falcon 9. Additionally, SpaceX has finally started reusing the rockets it has recovered, sending two previously flown boosters into space this year. That means SpaceX has pulled off a dozen missions in 2017 - the most it has ever done in a year and one more than Russian Federation so far this year.

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The National Space Organization (NSPO) spent six years and about NT$5.65 billion (US$186.8 million at the current exchange rate) developing Formosat-5, which is to replace the decommissioned Formosat-2 in collecting data for disaster evaluation, national security and scientific research during its five-year mission. The second stage continued on toward orbit and deployed the satellite. The company also plans to launch another used booster in September.

Another week, another successful rocket launch and recovery by Elon Musk's groundbreaking, Mars-seeking company, SpaceX.

SpaceX has a 42-minute launch window for today's FORMOSAT-5 liftoff. Twelve launches in one year puts SpaceX ahead of its closes competitor in 2017, the Russian state space agency. Formosat 5's launch was shuffled later in SpaceX's manifest for unexplained reasons. The 450-kilogram spacecraft was the first such satellite built domestically by Taiwan, and succeeds Formosat-2, retired a year ago.

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