SpaceX launches Taiwanese satellite, lands rocket stage

SpaceX made its 12th rocket launch of the year today, carrying a Taiwanese satellite into space, then successfully landing the first stage of the rocket on a barge.

The satellite is the first to be fully designed by Taiwan's space agency

The Formosat-5 satellite was launched into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today. (SpaceX)

An Earth-observation satellite for Taiwan's National Space Organization has been launched from California.

The Formosat-5 satellite lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:51 a.m. PDT on Thursday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX successfully landed the rocket's first stage on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean while the second stage continued toward orbit and deployed the satellite.

The satellite is the first to be fully designed by Taiwan's space agency and is intended to advance the nation's space technology and scientific research while providing global imagery with a wide array of uses.

Its main instrument is a sensor that produces high-resolution black-and-white and colour images.

Earlier this week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled a new spacesuit for the first astronauts to ride the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft.