The year’s third Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base lifted off on Thursday, en route to delivering a satellite into orbit for the Taiwanese government.
The Space Exploration Technologies booster blasted off at 11:50 a.m. at the beginning of a 42-minute launch window from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base.
While the upper portion of the rocket continued toward space, the used first-stage booster landed on a droneship, “Just Read the Instructions,” in the Pacific Ocean about 11 minutes later, which made Falcon three for three for touch-downs following Vandenberg missions.
It was the 15th successful landing for the a first-stage booster by SpaceX, with the others occurring following Florida launches.
The Formosat-5, an Earth observation satellite built by Taiwan’s National Space Organization, successfully deployed more than 11 minutes after liftoff.
Vandenberg’s next Falcon 9 rocket reportedly is targeting Sept. 30, with another 10 Iridium Next communication satellites ready to head to space.
Before that mission, Vandenberg’s launch manifest calls for a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launch with a top-secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. ULA officials said the mission is aiming for Sept. 14 from Space Launch Complex-3, also on South Base.