Falcon 9 launches Taiwanese remote sensing satellite

The 5.2-meter diameter payload fairing jettisons once the Falcon 9 rocket ascends through the dense lower atmosphere. The 43-foot-tall fairing is made of two clamshell-like halves composed of carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core

The launch is scheduled for 2:51 p.m. EST and the Falcon 9 rocket should land on the platform approximately 10 minutes and 47 seconds later.

SpaceX Falcon 9 has a successful launch late Thursday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The launch of the FORMOSAT-5 satellite was SpaceX's 12th orbital launch of the year. The 42-minute launch window opens at 2:51pm ET.

The satellite, which was built by Taiwan's National Space Organization, will study Earth for at least five years, from a sun-synchronous orbit 447 miles (720 kilometers) above the ground. SpaceX later discontinued the Falcon 1, moving Formosat-5 to a larger Falcon 9 vehicle. The spacecraft carries cameras capable of producing panchromatic images at a resolution of two meters and color images at a resolution of four meters.

"Formosat-5 also hosts a secondary scientific payload, an Advanced Ionospheric Probe (AIP), developed by Taiwan's National Central University", they added. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but NSPO is widely understood to be paying far less than the Falcon 9 list price of more than $60 million for this launch. 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. The company began reusing its boosters this year - its first successful booster landing was in December 2015 - in an effort to cut down on launch costs.

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