Launch of FormoSat-7 set for mid-2018: minister

Alan Olson
August 26, 2017

SpaceX launched and recovered its Falcon 9 rocket on 24 August - its 12th successful launch of the rocket this year.

SpaceX will launch the FORMOSAT-5 satellite for Taiwan's National Space Organisation from a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The event will be streamed live.

SpaceX will attempt to land the rocket's first stage on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean while the second stage continues toward orbit.

SpaceX later discontinued the Falcon 1, moving Formosat-5 to a larger Falcon 9 vehicle.

And this is actually good news for SpaceX as a business, as much as Musk may love to cultivate his relationship with the media.

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The first stage on Thursday's launch, a newly-manufactured booster, will return to port in Southern California in a few days for inspections, refurbishment and potential reuse on a future mission. 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.

"FORMOSAT-5 is the first space program that Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO) has taken full responsibility for the design, development and system integration of", SpaceX representatives wrote. With five months to go, SpaceX could launch 20 rockets by the end of the year at its current pace. As of now, the company has already re-flown two of its used Falcon 9 boosters.

SpaceX has a 42-minute launch window for today's FORMOSAT-5 liftoff.

Formosat 5 was to be accompanied by a package of approximately 90 small satellites fastened to a multi-payload Sherpa adapter developed by Spaceflight, a Seattle-based company that builds lightweight spacecraft and brokers launch services for CubeSats on rideshare rocket flights. "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.

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