FORMOSAT-2, the second of the nation’s three meteorological satellites, has generated more than NT$200 million (US$6.5 million) in economic benefits since being launched on May 21, 2004, a senior official at the space program administration said yesterday.
During a press conference to introduce a new photo album with images of Taiwan taken by FORMOSAT-2, Wu An-ming (吳岸明), the deputy director general of the Hsinchu-based National Space Organization (NSPO), outlined the sources of the satellite’s revenues.
He said NT$100 million had been earned from international collaboration projects, NT$100 million had come from education-oriented programs and tens of millions of NT dollars had been generated by military-diplomatic cooperation.
Asked why the satellite was such a commercial success, Wu explained that most commercial satellites can only zero in on the same area on Earth every two or three days because of their orbits, while FORMOSAT-2 is able to photograph the same location twice a day.
“This feature enables FORMOSAT-2 to provide observation not only on a weekly or monthly basis, but also on a daily basis,” Wu said.
Taiwan operates three satellite systems — FORMOSAT-1, 2 and 3. FORMOSAT-1 is a low-earth-orbit scientific experimental satellite, FORMOSAT-2 is capable of conducting remote sensing imaging.
FORMOSAT-3 — a constellation of six micro-satellites — provides real-time monitoring of global climate changes.
All research and cooperation projects are managed by the NSPO, which was established by the government in 1991 to carry out the nation’s space and astronomical programs.
According to NSPO, the FORMOSAT-2 satellite is expected to outlive its original mission life, serving for at least seven to eight years instead of the initially projected five years.