Triton, Taiwan’s first domestically produced weather satellite, was successfully launched into space from French Guiana and entered orbit yesterday morning, the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA) said.
The satellite was launched at 9:36am Taiwan time on Vega, an Ariane space commercial launcher designed with a target payload lift capability of 1,500kg and which has had 22 missions.
Triton was ejected from the launcher about 54 minutes after takeoff and communicated with Troll, a Norwegian research station in Antarctica, at 12:19pm, TASA Director-General Wu Jong-shinn (吳宗信) said.
Photo: screen shot from a Taiwan Space Agency livestream
The satellite was scheduled to communicate with a ground station in Taiwan for the first time when it passed by at 8:56pm yesterday, he said.
Triton was scheduled to launch on Saturday, but the mission was postponed after an abnormality was discovered 14 seconds into the countdown. The mission resumed following a 48-hour close inspection of the launch vehicle, Wu said.
The satellite is carrying the Global Navigation Satellite System-Reflectometry (GNSS-R), which is tailored to analyze signals reflected by the global navigation satellite system on the surface of the sea to analyze wind speeds, Wu said, adding that data collected by the GNSS-R would be important for climate science research and weather forecasting.
Climate researchers and meteorologists can use the satellite to observe extreme weather and typhoons in low-latitude zones of the central Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, Wu said.
About 82 percent of the Triton satellite, including the payload, was developed and manufactured in Taiwan, the TASA said, adding that more than 20 research-and-development units and manufacturers participated in the development of the equipment at the ground station.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) thanked everybody involved in the successful launch of Triton for persevering despite the challenges.
“Not only is this a major step forward for Taiwan’s aerospace industry, but it is also an achievement that should make all Taiwanese proud,” Tsai said.
“The successful launch of Triton has proven that Taiwan has an advantage in manufacturing semiconductors and precision equipment. We absolutely have the capability to advance the global aerospace industry,” she said.
The government is scheduled to launch Phase III of its space program, to which NT$25 billion (US$776 million) would be devoted over 10 years, to build a space industry chain and cultivate next-generation talent in the space industry.
The launch of Formosat-5 in 2017 and Formosat-7 in 2019 showed that Taiwan has the capability to develop its own satellites, Tsai said.
“From the transonic advanced jet trainer AIDC T-5 Brave Eagle, the Hai Kun submarine launch to the launch of Triton into space, we can proudly say to the next generation: Taiwan-made products can be showcased in the international market and can fly in the air, be immersed in the sea and operate in space,” Tsai said.
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