The aerospace company was also able to successfully land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a barge floating in the Pacific Ocean. If SpaceX keeps up its momentum, it could launch 20 total rockets by the year's end. The 42-minute launch window opens at 2:51pm ET.
An Earth-observation satellite for Taiwan's National Space Organization was launched into orbit from California on Thursday.
With a picturesque backdrop of a sunny and mostly clear sky, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket late Thursday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base. SpaceX later discontinued the Falcon 1, moving Formosat-5 to a larger Falcon 9 vehicle.
The satellite is equipped with multiple cameras, along with an Advanced Ionospheric Probe developed by Taiwan's National Central University.
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At the time of the contract, SpaceX expected to launch Formosat-5 by early 2014.
SpaceX previously planned to fly a secondary payload, the Sherpa bus from Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, which would have deployed almost 90 small satellites after separating from the Falcon 9 upper stage.
Vandenberg's next Falcon 9 rocket reportedly is targeting September 30, with another 10 Iridium Next communication satellites ready to head to space. SpaceX has already re-flown two used Falcon 9 first stages, and it has also employed the same robotic Dragon cargo capsule on two separate resupply flights to the International Space Station.