SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launches Formosat-5 but launch was a waste of space

by | Aug 25, 2017 | commercial launch services, Launches, Seradata News, SpaceX

A SpaceX-operated Falcon 9V1.2 FT-R launch vehicle lofted the FORMOSAT-5 remote sensing spacecraft into a 720 km sun-synchronous orbit on behalf of Taiwan’s National Space Organisation (NSPO) at 1851 GMT on 24 August 2017. Nearly 11 minutes after lift off, the reusable first stage from the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) Just Read The Instructions positioned down range in the Pacific.

The under-loaded launch of Falcon 9 launches Formosat-5. Courtesy: Seradata

 

While the flight from the Vandenberg launch site was a complete success, critics noted that given that the spacecraft was only 450 kg and that it was flying on its own, the launch was a serious waste of the launch vehicle’s much larger payload capability. In fact, the launch was originally planned to carry the SHERPA tug carrying about 90 nanosatellites but this was cancelled after its operator Spaceflight decided in March to move the some of the payload nanosatellites to a PSLV launch which flew earlier in the year as well as to an already booked later Falcon 9 flight.

FORMOSAT-5 replaces FORMOSAT-2 which retired in June last year due to attitude control issues resulting from a series of reaction wheel failures. The new spacecraft provides “medium resolution” imagery (resolution 2m panchromatic).

Comment by David Todd: FORMOSAT-5 was originally contracted to a much smaller launch vehicle, the Falcon 1E, but was moved to Falcon 9 after that operation was suspended. This would have been the ideal vehicle to fly it as a single payload. It is likely that the contract value paid by the NSPO was less than that of a dedicated Falcon 9 flight and SpaceX undoubtedly made an operational loss on this flight.

The launch arranger, Spaceflight, may also be regretting their decision to move off the flight as a result of its earlier delays, as the subsequent shuffling of the SpaceX launch schedule meant that the flight was not as delayed as much as was expected.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Space Launches: Three up in less than three days for Space X Falcon 9…but one is a mystery

In a flurry of activity, SpaceX performed three separate Falcon 9 launches in less than three days. At 1609 GMT Read more

USSF allocates eight “national security” launches from previous multi-launch contracts to ULA and SpaceX

The USSF (United States Space Force) Space Systems Command has formally allocated the eight launches from the previous National Security Read more

SpaceX launches 53 Group 4-18 Starlink satellites successfully

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 rocket from Kennedy Space Station, Florida, USA at 1059 GMT on 18 Read more

SpaceX launches Axiom AX-1 first all-commercial crew to ISS which returns to Earth late (Updated)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 with the first privately crewed mission to the ISS from the Kennedy Space Centre, USA, Read more

Billionaire Jared Isaacman works with SpaceX to provide private Polaris spacewalk missions

Jared Isaacman, the US billionaire who recently funded a part-charity human space mission called Inspiration4 which flew into orbit on Read more

Third Falcon 9 launch in four days – this one carrying 49 Starlink satellites to orbit…but then a solar storm hits (Updated)

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 rocket launched 49 satellites to their orbit m SpaceX's leased launch pad at the Kennedy Read more

TAIFA-1 to be built by Endurosat for Kenya’s Sayari Labs, launched on Falcon 9 as Endurosat also tapped to build space weather cubesat for Mission Space

Bulgarian small satellite maker Endurosat has joined forces with Kenya's SayarLabs who will respectively build and operate a 3U cubesat-class Read more

UK Ministry of Defence forgets its past loyalties and chooses SpaceX over Arianespace to launch its Skynet 6A comsat

The UK Ministry of Defence has surprised the pan-European launch provider Arianespace by selecting a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch for Read more

Categories

Archives