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SpaceX Will Lose Millions on Its Taiwanese Satellite Launch

• Wired by Robin Seemangal

At 1,047 pounds, the Formosat-5 Earth-observing satellite is almost light enough for a human to deadlift—but it'll launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket with 50 times more capacity. The overkill is thanks to a years-long delay, and SpaceX will take a substantial financial hit to make good on a contract it signed in 2010.

Elon Musk's space flight company will attempt to launch the rocket from Vandenberg Air Force base in California during a 42-minute window opening at 11:51 am PDT on Thursday. The satellite is bound for heliosynchronous orbit, where it will pass over Taiwan every two days for data retrieval. After the lightest single payload to ever hitch a ride on a Falcon 9 separates, the booster will fly back for a drone ship landing—hopefully to be reused in future, more economically viable missions.

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