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SpaceX launches Taiwan's first home-built satellite

[LOS ANGELES] SpaceX on Thursday launched the first satellite designed and built entirely in Taiwan, a spacecraft that aims to boost disaster forecasts and mapping, environmental observation and space research.

The satellite, called Formosat-5, weighs nearly 450kg and blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 11:51am (1851 GMT).

"Falcon 9 has lifted off," SpaceX engineer Lauren Lyons said as the rocket soared into the sky over the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, leaving billowing clouds of smoke in its wake.

The satellite is designed to last for five years, and will orbit the Earth once every 100 minutes.

Its predecessor, FormosaT-2, was decommissioned last year after 12 years, a lifespan in which it mapped a series of major disasters in parts of Asia and Africa.

It, too, had been designed to operate for just five years.

AFP

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