Sat, Mar 27, 2004 - Page 4 News List

ROCSAT-2 to launch on April 10

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Scientists work around the clock to fix problems previously found on the Taurus vehicle and its ground apparatus.

PHOTO: NSPO, CALIFORNIA

The launch of the nation's second satellite, ROCSAT-2, might finally be in sight, following a series of delays since it was shipped to its California launch site last December.

The National Science Council announced yesterday that the satellite would be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on April 9.

According to the council's National Space Program Office (NSPO), US Orbital Sciences Corp (OSC), the operator of the Taurus rocket lift vehicle, filed an application for the liftoff a few days ago and has received the approval.

The launch window is between 1:47am to 2:10am on April 10 Taiwan time.

"The scheduled launch date will not be changed because all problems found previously have been fixed," Cheng Kuo-ping (鄭國屏), manager of NSPO's Program Control Department, told the Taipei Times.

The liftoff will be broadcast liveto Taiwan through the control room of the Hsinchu-based NSPO and television networks, Cheng said.

On Dec. 10, NSC officials said electrical circuit problems with the Taurus rocket would delay the liftoff scheduled for Jan. 17 and they rescheduled it for Feb. 26.

In early February, officials said that the OSC reported inaccuracies in some equipment because of an earthquake that rocked California on Dec. 22.

Late last month, NSC officials and NSPO experts visited the air base in California to probe the cause of the delays.

The officials said most of the problems had been fixed and the satellite was in good condition. At that time, NSC officials stressed that such adjustments to schedule were common.

Yesterday, NSC officials said that on March 19 the rocket had been filled with hydrazine fuel. Cheng said the satellite had been transferred to the launch site on Tuesday and it would be placed on the rocket on April 1, after which a complete systems test would be conducted.

A 12-person NSPO team, including Chern Jeng-shing (陳正興), program manager of the ROCSAT-2 project, are at the launch site.

ROCSAT-2 differs from its predecessor ROCSAT-1, which was launched five years ago, in that it will have practical applications involving remote-sensing technologies.

Those technologies are expected to enhance Taiwan's abilities to prevent disasters and map state-owned land.

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