SpaceX has a launch scheduled for today, with a 42-minute launch window opening at 11:51 AM PDT (2:51 PM EDT). The launch is for Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO), which is aiming to put satellite FORMOSAT-5 into low-Earth sun synchronous orbit, where it will be used to beam back high-resolution global imagery, and probe Earth’s ionosphere for research purposes.
For the NSPO, this is a milestone mission because it’s the first program that the organization has developed itself in full, from design through system integration. Taiwan is hoping that the mission will pave the way for even greater self-reliance when it comes to space tech and global imaging.
The launch will take off from Space’s SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and the launch will also include an attempted recovery of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage, which will return after separating from the second stage via controlled descent to SpaceX’s “Just Read the Instructions” drone barge landing pad situated in the Pacific Ocean.
If successful, this would be the 12th SpaceX launch for 2017, and that would surpass Russia for the most launches flown this year. SpaceX is also on track to launch as many as 20 missions this year, which would be a record for the company and very impressive when measured against the industry in general, as well as its own past performance.
A backup window for today’s launch is set for Friday at 11:51 AM PDT, or 2:51 PM EDT.