Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Formosat-7 to bolster national security, president says

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

From left, Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, President Tsai Ing-wen and Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee pose for a photograph with staff members at the National Space Organization in the Hsinchu Science Park yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Formosat-7/COSMIC-2 satellite constellation would bolster national security by collecting more weather data, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday as she inspected the Ministry of Science and Technology’s preparations for the next launch.

The Formosat-7 constellation, the biggest Taiwanese-US collaboration, is designed to collect more weather data for national defense and disease prevention purposes, Tsai said while visiting the National Space Organization (NSPO) at the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區).

The nation demonstrated its ability to develop space technology when Formosat-5 — Taiwan’s first domestically developed remote sensing satellite — was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Aug. 25, 2017, she said, adding that the government would continue to support space technology development to make Taiwan an indispensable part of the global supply chain.

After inspecting the organization’s integration and testing facilities, Tsai presented the constellation’s certification of flight readiness to NSPO Director-General Lin Chun-liang (林俊良).

The successor to the Formosat-3 constellation, dubbed “the world’s most precise thermometer in space,” the Formosat-7 constellation is expected to collect three to four times more data than its predecessor, Lin said.

It would be transported to the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida by China Airlines cargo aircraft and launched on a Space Exploration Technologies Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, he said, but added that the agency is still waiting for the US to set a launch date.

Formosat-7’s six mission satellites were manufactured by the Surrey Satellite Technology in England, a unit of Airbus Defense and Space, and are each equipped with three US-made instruments: the Tri-GNSS Radio Occultation System, an ion velocity meter and a radio frequency beacon, Lin said.

A seventh satellite, the Formosat-7R, also named Triton or “wind hunter,” was developed by the NSPO and would be launched next year at the earliest, NSPO Deputy Director-General Yu Shiann-jen (余憲政) said, adding that the agency would open an international tender for its launch.

Developing key satellite components is crucial to the nation’s third space program, which runs from this year until 2028, when it plans to launch six pilot high-resolution remote sensing satellites, two ultra-high-resolution remote sensing satellites and two synthetic aperture radar satellites, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said.

The program’s first remote sensing satellite is expected to be launched in 2021, Chen said.

In addition to the NSPO, academic and industrial resources would be involved in the program when necessary, he said, adding that many academics are keen to work on space exploration projects.

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