Third space program to focus on satellite development: ministry

Taipei, Taiwan's third space program will focus on developing satellites and related technology over the next decade, enabling the government to better safeguard the nation, according to a Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) statement Tuesday.

The satellites to be developed from 2019-2028, include high-resolution and ultra-high-resolution optical remote sensing satellites, and synthetic aperture radar satellites, the ministry said.

The high-resolution and ultra-high-resolution optical remote sensing satellites will have a higher resolution than the 2-meter resolution panchromatic (black & white) images of the Formosat-5, MOST pointed out. However, the statement did not indicate what resolution images the new satellites would provide.

The Formosat-5 is Taiwan's first domestically developed and produced high-resolution optical telemetry satellite, taking six years and NT$5.66 billion (US$183.5 million) to develop, according to the New Southbound Policy Portal website, which is under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs domain.

The new satellites are expected to work together with the Formosat-5, collecting imagery and data to monitor homeland security and environmental changes, as well as land survey data, MOST pointed out.

Also designed to fulfill a homeland security function, the synthetic aperture radar satellite can send electromagnetic waves to objects on the earth's surface and collect returning waves without interference from clouds or weather, the ministry said.

The satellite can be useful when monitoring deforestation, land subsidence, epidermal deformation and assessing the scope of natural disasters, MOST added.

MOST's Department of Foresight and Innovation Policies said that Taiwan's first space program ran from 1991-2006, had a budget of NT$19.7 billion and established an essential foundation for space technology.

The second space program, from 2004-2018, had a budget of NT$25.9 billion and developed the Formosat-5, the department said.

Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang on Tuesday signed official documents already approved by the Legislative Yuan to spend NT$25.1 billion on the third space program.

On his Facebook page, Su said the measure is part of the government's third space program aimed at nurturing new talent and boosting national research into space technology, with the results to be used to support industrial development.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel