SpaceX launches Taiwan’s FORMOSAT-5 satellite

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SpaceX has helped Taiwan get their first home-built satellite into space atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

The satellite FORMOSAT-5 is the first satellite designed and built entirely in Taiwan. The satellite will help the country boost disaster forecasts and mapping, environmental observation and space research. The satellite weighs nearly 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms). The satellite is designed to operate for five years, and will orbit the Earth once every 100 minutes.

Its predecessor, FORMOSAT-2, was decommissioned last year after 12 years, a lifespan in which it mapped a series of major disasters in parts of Asia and Africa. It, too, had been designed to operate for just five years.

Alongside the launch SpaceX continues its efforts to re-use expensive rocket components instead of jettisoning them into the ocean after each launch, SpaceX managed to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 on a platform floating in the Pacific Ocean.

“This is the 15th successful landing of a Falcon 9,” Lyons said on the live webcast, as cheers erupted at SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California.

After separating from the second stage of the rocket, the taller, first stage portion powered its engines and made a controlled return to Earth. Cameras mounted on the rocket showed it touch down, upright, on a drone ship named “Just Read the Instructions.”

SpaceX plans to haul the rocket back to land and refurbish it so it can be used in a future launch.

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