Sat, Aug 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Formosat-5 to commence commercial operations as image quality improves

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s first domestically developed satellite, Formosat-5, is to become commercially operational next month, National Space Organization (NSPO) Director-General Lin Chun-liang (林俊良) said yesterday, adding that officials are working to automatize its image-processing.

Lin made the announcement after delivering a report about the organization’s space programs to Premier William Lai (賴清德), who visited it at the Hsinchu Science Park yesterday morning.

The NSPO spent six years and about NT$5.659 billion (US$184.3 million at the current exchange rate) developing Formosat-5 to replace the decommissioned Formosat-2, which collected data and images for disaster evaluation, national security and scientific research.

Formosat-2 was officially decommissioned in August 2016. Its successor was on Aug. 25 last year launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The first images that it transmitted in September last year were blurry and tainted with light spots, but after months of recalibration, the NSPO on Feb. 23 said that the satellite is now able to transmit images at its default resolution — 2m for black-and-white images and 4m for color images — after proper image processing.

Formosat-5 has taken about 6,800 sets of images so far, Lin said, adding that NSPO officials are trying to automatize the satellite’s image processing to allow for faster delivery to clients.

The NSPO is to sell the images to other government agencies, such as the Agriculture and Food Agency, the Agricultural Research Institute, the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Central Geological Survey and the Ministry of the Interior’s National Land Surveying and Mapping Center, he said.

Some satellite image agents from abroad have also expressed interest in purchasing images, he said.

In case of disaster rescue missions, such as those after earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, the NSPO would provide images for free, he added.

Asked whether the NSPO has an estimated figure for Formosat-5’s return on investment, Lin said it should produce more revenue than Formosat-2, which collected NT$1.6 billion during its service period from 2004 to 2016.

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