Hawthorne-based SpaceX launched a Taiwanese satellite into orbit Thursday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Falcon 9 deployed the satellite approximately 11 minutes after launch, placing the FORMOSAT-5 payload into its targeted orbit. But the project ran into delays in Taiwan, and Formosat 5's launch was switched to a larger Falcon 9 rocket once SpaceX ended its Falcon 1 rocket program. SpaceX, during the launch webcast, declared the launch a success.
With today's launch, it seems that SpaceX is picking back up its mission pace.
The new space program, a collaboration between NSPO and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration in the USA, will collect data for weather forecasts and ionospheric, gravity, and climate research, former NSPO Director-General Chang Guey-shin (張桂祥) told CNA.
At the time of the contract, SpaceX expected to launch Formosat-5 by early 2014.
Moments later, Formosat 5 flew free from the Falcon 9's upper stage. The second stage continued carrying Formosat-5 toward its prescribed orbit, and the first stage performed a series of maneuvers to head toward the SpaceX drone ship "Just Read the Instructions", which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean. The teams in Taiwan and in the United States congratulated each other excitedly for FORMOSAT-5 launched into space successfully. With five months to go, SpaceX could launch 20 rockets by the end of the year at its current pace. The satellite also carries a secondary Advanced Ionospheric Probe instrument built by Taiwan's National Central University. As such, the company's West coast pad may well remain unused well into the future, and SpaceX may simply have chosen to focus their pad engineers on the far more pressing and time sensitive work going on at SpaceX's East coast launch facilities.
SpaceX has succeeded with a launch of one of its Falcon 9 rockets today, for client Taiwan National Space Organization (NSPO).