Taiwan may be able to launch its own micro-satellite by 2012 with Pingtung as the launch site if the weight of the satellite can be further decreased, National Science Council (NSC) Minister Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday.
Chen made the remark when answering questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆).
The Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee was holding a review session on the frozen portions of the NSC’s budget for the 2008 fiscal year.
National Space Program Office (NSPO) Director Miao Yi-chun (苗易君), who was also present at the meeting, said the micro-satellite scheduled to be launched in 2012 belongs to the 50kg category.
He also said that it would mainly be used for scientific experiments at schools.
Currently, the orbiting satellite FORMOSAT-3 carries six micro-satellites that collect climate data from around the globe.
Meanwhile, in response to a question by KMT Legislator Chiang Yi-hsiung (江義雄) about when Taiwan’s remote-sending satellite project would be completely independent, Miao said that the next optical payload satellite would be the first satellite to be independently built in Taiwan.
The satellite is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
Although the FORMOSAT-3 was part of the NSPO satellite project, it was built in collaboration with the US and was launched in April 2006 from a US military base in California.
Several legislators voiced worries during the meeting about the negative news, which have caused public concerns surrounding the satellite projects.
Chen also said that there were some problems with the NSPO, but said that he believed the problems would be solved very quickly lunder Miao’s leadership.
Miao took over as head of the organization last December.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LOA IOK-SIN