Science & Technology

SpaceX launches Formosat-5 satellite, then lands booster on Pacific drone ship

SpaceX chalked up one other profitable satellite tv for pc launch and booster touchdown at present, placing Taiwan’s Formosat-5 Earth statement satellite tv for pc into orbit within the course of.

The corporate’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 11:51 a.m. PT from California’s Vandenberg Air Drive Base on the opening of a 44-minute launch window.

Minutes later, the rocket’s second stage separated to ship the 1,050-pound Formosat-5 satellite tv for pc into a virtually pole-to-pole orbit for Taiwan’s Nationwide House Group.

The satellite tv for pc, a successor to Formosat-2, is designed to ship down high-resolution Earth imagery for 5 years. Formosat-5 additionally carries a plasma sensor that may monitor the impact of area climate on Earth’s ionosphere.

Whereas the second stage ascended to orbit, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster flew itself right down to a drone ship stationed within the Pacific Ocean. The ship’s title, “Simply Learn the Directions,” pays homage to the sentient starships in Iain M. Banks’ science-fiction novels.

The mission marked the fortieth Falcon 9 launch and SpaceX’s twelfth profitable launch in 2017, which has been the California-based firm’s busiest yr thus far. SpaceX now has 15 profitable booster landings underneath its belt, marking a key step in its quest for rocket reusability.

At one time, Seattle-based Spaceflight had deliberate to ship 89 small satellites into orbit as secondary payloads for the Formosat-5 launch, however that plan was canceled months ago as a result of uncertainties within the launch schedule. The payloads had been redistributed onto different flights.

The following Falcon 9 launch, set for Sept. 7, is predicted to ship the Air Drive’s X-37B area airplane into orbit for that program’s fifth labeled mission. That launch would mark the primary use of a Falcon 9 for an X-37B launch; earlier launches have used United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket.

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