Taiwan-US satellite group set for June launch from Florida

Formosat-7, a group of six satellites jointly developed by Taiwan and the U.S., is scheduled to launch June 22 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

An initiative between the National Space Organization and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the constellation is designed primarily to gather weather and ionospheric observation data on low- and mid-latitude regions. The satellite cluster departed for the U.S. April 14 from NSPO in northern Taiwan's Hsinchu City and is set to be carried into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Speaking at NSPO the same day, President Tsai Ing-wen said that Formosat-7 will significantly enhance Taiwan's meteorological forecasting accuracy and disaster preparedness capacity, especially with regard to severe events like typhoons and torrential rains. As the largest collaborative project of its kind between Taiwan and U.S., the satellite constellation also marks a major milestone in efforts to deepen related R&D exchanges between the two sides, she added.

According to Tsai, Taiwan's commitment to expanding its expertise in this field is underscored by the new 10-year, NT$25.1 billion (US$813.5 million) space development program approved by the Cabinet Jan. 15. This substantial investment is expected to further strengthen the nation's role in international space technology supply chains, she said.

Under the plan, NSPO is tasked with producing an additional 10 satellites by 2028, with another indigenously developed weather probe scheduled to be launched within the next two years, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Formosat-7 is set to take over from Formosat-3, which has collected more than 10 million atmospheric profiles since its launch in 2006, NSPO said. The new constellation is capable of capturing 4,000 atmospheric and ionospheric profiles of tropical and subtropical regions each day, about three to four times the amount of Formosat-3.

More than 40 Taiwan high school and university students are also set to travel to the U.S. to watch the Formosat-7 launch. Their trips are being sponsored by NSPO under educational outreach programs organized in collaboration with local institutions like National Central University and National Cheng Kung University in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City and southern Taiwan's Tainan City, respectively.

Established in 1991, NSPO is administered by the National Applied Research Laboratories under the MOST. It is committed to becoming a center of innovation for space technology and conducting domestic and international space programs.

Source: Taiwan Today