NSPO develops first fully Taiwanese satellite computer

CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY::The computer is designed for the FORMOSAT-5, which is scheduled to be launched into space from the US in 2015

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 - Page 3

The National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) yesterday announced that the National Space Organization (NSPO) has developed the first satellite computer fully designed and manufactured in Taiwan, and it is due to be launched into space in 2015.

NARL director Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said the satellite computer plays a role similar to that of a brain.

As the control center of a satellite’s operations, the computer is listed as a regulated space technology item for foreign export, Chen said, making it critical technology that is much sought-after by satellite manufacturers.

The NSPO and the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology began designing the computer for FORMOSAT-5 in 2009, integrating the technological skills of 40 specialists, Chen said.

The team has completed the manufacturing and testing, and is scheduled to finish two sets of flying object development and testing by the end of next year.

The performance of the satellite computer has already reached internationally recognized levels for a sub-nano scale high-resolution remote sensing satellite, enough to meet Taiwan’s requirements for the next decade, he said.

Missions would include providing precise information to help with natural disaster prevention and assessment.

NSPO section head Shie Ming-hwang (徐銘煌) said the computer is equipped with a specially designed highly reliable circuit module that has a backup system and software modification features that can upgrade and expand its functions to increase the stability of the computer after it reaches the harsher environment of space.

The computer for the FORMOSAT-5 is designed to have a life expectancy of about five to seven years, and the reliability of the computer is expected to remain as high as 94 percent after five years, Shie said.

The FORMOSAT-5 is scheduled to go into full-scale testing next summer and the delicate satellite computer, which cost about NT$3.65 billion (US$125.3 million) to develop, is scheduled to be added to the FORMOSAT-5.

The satellite is scheduled to be launched into space from the US in 2015 and reach an orbit about 720km above the Earth.

Additional reporting by CNA