French company Matra has started shipping satellite components to Taiwan for assembly despite persistent pressure from Beijing, it was reported yesterday.
Chen Cheng-hsing, who oversees the program for Taiwan's second research satellite dubbed "ROCSAT-2," said Matra is scheduled to ship all the 17 major components to Taiwan by May, according to the China Times in a dispatch from Toulouse, France.
It will take half a year to complete assembly and a series of tests with assistance from Matra engineers, the paper said.
Matra has also been contracted to build a payload to carry opto-electronics equipment on board the satellite, the paper said.
"Matra has come under great pressure from Beijing, which threatened to cancel its order for Airbus passenger aircraft," the paper quoted an unnamed Matra official as saying.
Beijing fears the satellite, designed with a resolution of 2m, could be transferred to military use by Taiwan.
Analysts said that without a fully-controlled spy satellite, Taiwan could hardly establish a functional anti-missile system.
The ROCSAT-2 satellite is scheduled to be sent into orbit in October next year in the US after a launching contract with India's state-run Antrix company was scrapped.
Taiwan in October 1991 laun-ched a 15-year space program at an estimated cost of NT$19.6 billion (US$560 million).