Rocket scientist Wu Jong-shinn (吳宗信) is to lead the National Space Organization (NSPO) from Aug. 1, and his mission would be to establish a rocket launch site, the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) said yesterday.
NSPO Director-General Lin Chun-liang (林俊良), who assumed office on Feb. 1, 2018, has said that he plans to return to his research position at National Chung Hsing University next month.
Wu, 57, is the director of National Chiao Tung University’s Advanced Rocket Research Center and is known for having a passion for rocket development, despite limited funding.
Taiwan should be able to launch satellites on its own, instead of relying on foreign rocket suppliers, Wu has said.
“My goal is to make Taiwan’s space technology and industry infrastructure better than ever, and have the space economy rooted in our motherland,” he has said.
Wu obtained his doctorate at the University of Michigan’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and his master’s degree from National Taiwan University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
In 2016, Wu founded Taiwan Innovative Space Inc (TiSPACE), the nation’s first commercial rocket company, but left in 2018 due to differences of opinion with the investors, he said.
The Ministry of Science and Technology, which oversees the NSPO, last year began planning a site to launch sounding rockets, after TiSPACE was accused of illegally building a launch pad in Taitung County.
Hoping to have the site at Syuhai Village (旭海) in Pingtung County’s Mudan Township (牡丹), the NSPO has been communicating with local Aboriginal communities to obtain their consent, NARL president Wu Kuang-chong (吳光鐘) said.
While satellites have been a staple of the nation’s space technology development over the past three decades, NARL aims to make up ground in the indispensable area of developing launch vehicles, he said.
Wu Jong-shinn would make great contributions, with his outstanding research achievements and his understanding of the “ecology” of the NSPO, Wu Kuang-chong added.
While some people are waiting to see if the disagreement between Wu Jong-shinn and TiSPACE will affect his judgement, Wu Kuang-chong said that he believes Wu Jong-shinn would distinguish fairly between public and private businesses.
Wu Jong-shinn's industrial experience would be a boon for the NSPO, as he knows more about industrial needs than many previous directors, a space scientist said separately, on condition of anonymity.
However, it might not be easy to make the development of launch rockets a formal policy, as the government has been under pressure from the US to avoid doing so, the scientist said.
Wu Jong-shinn plans to launch a HTTP-3A hybrid-propellant rocket by this summer.
Before Wu Jong-shinn's appointment, NSPO Deputy Director-General Yu Shiann-jeng (余憲政) is to serve as acting head.
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