SpaceX successfully launches its 12th Falcon 9 rocket of 2017

Posted August 25, 2017

The Formosat-5, an Earth observation satellite built by Taiwan's National Space Organization, successfully deployed more than 11 minutes after liftoff.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off Thursday between 11:50 a.m. and 12:34 p.m.

It was the 15th successful landing for the a first-stage booster by SpaceX, with the others occuring following Florida launches.

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The rocket's only payload, the Formosat-5 remote sensing satellite, separated from the upper stage a little more than 11 minutes after launch. It also carries an ionospheric science instrument developed by a Taiwanese university.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is set for another launch, this time, the launch of the FORMOSAT-5 satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX later discontinued the Falcon 1, moving Formosat-5 to a larger Falcon 9 vehicle. SpaceX also had a couple of high-profile accidents, including a second-stage failure during a launch in 2015, and a launch pad accident in 2016. However, Spaceflight announced in March that it had made a decision to find alternative rides for those secondary payloads because of "significant" delays it expected in the Formosat-5 launch. Twelve launches in one year puts SpaceX ahead of its closes competitor in 2017, the Russian state space agency. After the first stage sends the satellite on its way to low Earth orbit, the booster will attempt a landing on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

It's hard to believe it was less than two years ago that a SpaceX Falcon 9 landing was an elusive and unprecedented achievement.