Taiwan starts Formosat-5 delivery to launch site in U.S.

2017/07/19 17:49:54 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Taiwan starts Formosat-5 delivery to launch site in U.S.

Taipei, July 19 (CNA) The Hsinchu-based National Space Organization (NSPO) on Wednesday started preparations to deliver Taiwan's first domestically developed satellite, Formosat-5, to the launch site in the United States for final testing.

The satellite is scheduled for launch on Aug. 25 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Formosat-5 satellite was designed by the NSPO and built by more than 50 domestic teams including Taiwan's CMOS Sensor Inc. and National Central University.

The high-resolution optical remote-sensing satellite will continue the remote sensing mission previously executed by Formosat-2, providing 2-meter panchromatic and 4-meter multispectral resolution images for a wide array of applications, according to the NSPO.

The applications include government administration, disaster forecasting and mitigation, national security, environmental observation, international technological exchanges, academic research and international humanitarian assistance.

The NSPO completed packaging and shipping preparations for the various parts of the satellite on July 15 ahead of the satellite's launch next month.

The satellite was transported to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Wednesday for delivery to the launch site where it will undergo final testing and integration with the Falcon 9 rocket, its launch vehicle.

It took six years and cost NT$5.7 billion (US$191.52 million) to develop the 450kg optical remote sensing satellite which measures 2.8 meters tall, has an outer diameter of 1.6 meters and is to embark on a five-year observation mission, according to the NSPO.

The Formosat-5 satellite will carry an atmospheric/ionospheric profiling (AIP) scientific payload, which can be used to develop a weather model in space, monitor changes in plasma turbulence and search for potential changes in the ionosphere before earthquakes, according to the NSPO.

After entering orbit, Formosat-5 will pass over Taiwan once every two days and the data it obtains will be invaluable for scientific research, the NSPO said.

The launch of Formosat-5 was originally set for last year, but was delayed several times after SpaceX, the U.S. company commissioned to conduct the launch, saw its Falcon 9 rocket and payload, the Amos-6 communications satellite, destroyed in an explosion last September, impacting the launch schedule of other satellites.

Formosat-2, which conducted remote sensing imaging from May 2004, was decommissioned in mid-2016.

Since Taiwan started its space program in 1991, the nation has launched three satellites, the key parts of which were manufactured in other countries.

In contrast, Formosat-5 was produced domestically, from design and manufacture to assembly and testing. It is a testament to Taiwan's advanced satellite manufacturing capabilities, according to the NSPO.

(By Huang Li-yun and Evelyn Kao)
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