It seems like only yesterday SpaceX pulled off another one of its classic Falcon 9 rocket launches and landings. You’re forgiven if you thought that might’ve been the case, as it actually happened on Monday. The launchpad — and landing pad! — have barely cooled down, but the company is already revving up for its next mission: a launch of a Taiwanese Earth observation satellite into sun-synchronous orbit.
Set for August 24, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket out from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, at 2:50 p.m. Eastern Time, carrying Taiwan’s National Space Organization’s (NPSO) FORMOSAT-5 satellite into orbit. Most exciting, is what comes 10 minutes after launch: another first-stage booster landing, on its Just Read the Instructions droneship in the Pacific Ocean.
If SpaceX manages to pull this off, there are two major consequences. One, of course, is that the company goes a perfect nine for nine on rocket landing attempts. The company will seek to keep that perfect score going into the fall, as a prelude to its hotly-anticipated Falcon Heavy inaugural launch. Not even SpaceX CEO Elon Musk thinks the launch will go well, so the company will need to rack up all the points on the board in can before it potentially watches the Falcon Heavy triumphantly go down in flames.
The other big gain from this latest launch for SpaceX is that this helps solidify SpaceX’s wide range of customer partnerships in Asia. This is the first time the NPSO will contract SpaceX for a satellite launch. If it’s successful, SpaceX can probably start counting Taiwan as a regular partner.
Although SpaceX is a U.S.-based company, it has had little trouble finding international partners for customers. The more aggressive SpaceX can get with its spaceflight architecture reusability plans, the less expensive future missions should cost — a boon for the developing world, which has less money to throw around for launches.
Come back to Inverse on August 24 for full coverage of the FORMOSAT-5 launch. You can catch a livestream of the mission on SpaceX’s website as well — and see for yourself whether the company can stick the landing for a record ninth time this year.