What's more, SpaceX's mission was to send the first exclusively-made Taiwanese satellite to space.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off Thursday between 11:50 a.m. and 12:34 p.m. Both SpaceX and Russian Federation have launched 11 successful orbital missions this year, followed by China with eight and European firms at six. Thursday's mission pushed SpaceX past Russian Federation, which has 11, for the most orbital launches of any single entity. The satellite was deployed into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 720 kilometers.
The main payload of Formosat-5 is an optical "Remote Sensing Instrument", which will provide 6.5-foot (2 meters) resolution for black-and-white images and 13-foot (4 m) resolution for multi-spectral color images, SpaceX representatives wrote in a mission overview.
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Formosat-5 Earth-observation satellite on August 24, 2017.
The satellite was constructed by the Taiwan National Space Organization. The larger, more powerful Falcon Heavy rocket is set for a demonstration launch later this year. However, Spaceflight announced in March that it had chose to find alternative rides for those secondary payloads because of "significant" delays it expected in the Formosat-5 launch. The first stage successfully separated from the second shortly after take-off, and then returned as planned under a controlled descent to SpaceX's drone barge ship in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the U.S. SpaceX has recovered nine boosters thus far in 2017, including the one used for today's FORMOSAT-5 mission.
It's hard to believe it was less than two years ago that a SpaceX Falcon 9 landing was an elusive and unprecedented achievement.