The Ministry of Science and Technology has designated a government-owned property as a site for launching sounding rockets, which could pave the way for soliciting commercial opportunities for the nation’s space technology, academics said.
The ministry on June 4 released a 16-page draft of guidelines governing security issues on launch sites for sounding rockets, which carry instruments for scientific research.
The ministry is to gather public opinions about the guidelines until Wednesday next week.
According to the draft guidelines, researchers should file an application with the ministry 30 days before a launch, and include plans for the simulated flight path, landing zone for rocket components and emergency response measures.
Researchers now launch sounding rockets at military bases or from idle land, but the guidelines show that the ministry has designated a seaside plot in Pingtung’s Mudan Township (牡丹) as a site for launches.
Sounding rockets carry instruments up to 300km above ground and return to Earth after the mission, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Shieh Dar-bin (謝達斌) said on Thursday.
The planned site is a property that the ministry has borrowed from the National Property Administration and is “one of the ministry’s candidate venues,” he said.
While the draft guidelines do not cover the launch of commercial rockets, it might be a way out for Taiwan Innovative Space Inc (TiSPACE), whose first test-launch has hit a snag.
Founded in 2016, TiSPACE is the nation’s first commercial rocket company. Last year, it planned to test-launch its Hapith I rocket from a site in Taitung County’s Nantian Village (南田), but the plan was suspended because of a dispute over the site’s legitimacy.
The Taitung County Government said in a news release on April 9 that construction on the site is illegal, and has issued several fines to the firm. Taiwan Power Co has cut power supply to the site.
The company is not under the ministry’s purview, but it could consider paying rent to use the Mudan site when it is ready, Shieh said.
The rent would be different for academic and commercial teams, but the lease standards are not yet ready, he added.
Asked if it would consider leasing the new site, TiSPACE said it could not comment as the draft has not been finalized.
Space science academics welcomed the ministry’s plan.
It is “very good” that the government has finally decided to establish such a site, National Central University Department of Space Science and Engineering director Chao Chi-kuang (趙吉光) said.
The site is adjacent to the Jioupeng Military Base, which the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology uses to test missiles, he added.
Although the site has been designated for scientific research, it might be open to commercial applications in the future, he said.
National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) mechanical engineering professor Gou Chong-sin (吳宗信) also lauded the plan.
Known for establishing the Advanced Rocket Research Center at NCTU in 2012, he said he founded TiSPACE, but left the firm in 2018 due to differences in opinion with other company members.
The ministry’s planned site might only be a temporary establishment, as it is only 1 to 2 hectares — which would be inadequate for bigger rocket launches or commercial development, and would also be used by the military at times, he said.
To build a national rocket launch base, the government should consider finding a 100 to 200 hectare plot equipped with launch pad facilities and electricity supply, he said, adding that the nation needs a “Space Act” to complete related requirements.
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed
DIALOGUE SOUGHT: Washington said it was concerned about the pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate Taiwan after the 10th day of PLA activity in the region The US on Monday urged Beijing to stop its multifaceted pressure campaign against Taiwan after China sent 25 military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate the region, including Taiwan,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in an e-mail response to questions. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.” The Ministry of National Defense said that 25 Chinese military aircraft entered the zone on Monday. It was the 10th straight
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a
‘NOT ENTHUSIASTIC’: People who have been approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, such as foreign diplomats, would be able to receive a vaccine The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to the fourth priority group — people who need to travel abroad for special reasons — adding that out-of-pocket vaccines would be available from Wednesday next week. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said although Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination program was on Monday expanded to include the top three groups in the priority list, people are still “not enthusiastic” about getting vaccinated. “Only 1,220 people received a vaccine shot on Tuesday, and a total of 27,113 people have received COVID-19 vaccination” so far, he