The country's National Space Development Program's second phase, to be conducted between next year and 2018, will focus on integrating and developing satellite systems and applications in a bid to not only create business opportunities but also enhance scientific research, the National Science Council said yesterday.
At a meeting chaired by council Deputy Minister Hsieh Ching-chih (謝清志), the program's second phase, developed by the National Space Program Office (NSPO) under the National Applied Research Laboratories, which is affiliated with the council, was discussed.
According to NSPO Director Lee Lou-chuang (李羅權), the first phase of the nation's scientific space projects will be completed in 2005, when the country's third satellite, ROCSAT-3, is expected to be launched on schedule.
Established in 1991, the NSPO launched the nation's first satellite, ROCSAT-1, from Florida in January, 1999. Its successor, ROCSAT-2, will be launched, probably in late November, from California.
The second phase aims to integrate the research and development efforts of industries, government agencies, universities and institutions in order to enhance the country's space technology.
After the presentation made by NSPO deputy director Chen Shao-shing (陳紹興), representatives from the government, the industry and academia discussed details to let the implementation of the second phase of the program progress smoothly.
Six major parts of the program's second phase, which will cost at least NT$27 billion in the following 15 years, include self-reliant micro-satellite development programs, international cooperation programs on space sciences, a scientific sub-orbital research program, a technology-development program, a remote-sensing satellite program and a satellite broadband communication program.
The second phase project also aims to expand the technical capabilities of space industries, satellite applications and their related infrastructures in Taiwan.
Lee said several satellite data retailers from France, the US and Canada expressed their interest in a future remote-sensing program to be conducted by ROCSAT-2.
"In addition, Taiwan's future satellites for commercial use would be able to provide wideband communication services to satisfy confidential users," Lee said.
Technologies developed in the first phase of the country's National Space Development Program, Lee said, could serve as a strong foundation for future improvement.
Lee said the success in developing diverse space-qualified components, such as solar panels and antennae applying to different bands, would make the country a prime satellite contractor in the near future.
"At the same time, strengthening academic capabilities is also one of our focuses in the second phase," Lee said.
By 2018, Lee said, the country would participate in three to five major international satellite projects involving NASA, the European Space Agency and a number of leading Japanese space science institutes.
Lee said national needs were fulfilled by achievements in the first phase, including scientific research pertaining to the ionosphere, the development of remote-sensing technologies and the enhancement of the resolution of imagers for geological survey use.
Late last month, the country's achievement in successfully taking pictures of gigantic jets that jump from thunderclouds up to the ionosphere was published by a leading science journal, Nature.