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Ministry planning low-orbit satellite launch in 2025

Taiwan’s first low-orbit communications satellite would be launched by 2025, and the government has budgeted NT$4 billion (US$140.62 million) for its development, Minister of Science and Technology Wu Tsung-tsong said yesterday.

The Beyond 5G communications satellite would be jointly developed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Wu told a news conference in Taipei.

The program seeks to help local companies make inroads into the emerging low-orbit satellite communications industry, led by US rocket supplier SpaceX’s Starlink program, he said.

Taiwan’s semiconductor, information and communications technology developers are competitive on the global stage and could pave the way for local firms to supply key components, modules and subsystems to communications satellites and related applications, Wu said.

The Beyond 5G’s launch might be conducted by a foreign entity, he added.

National Space Organization Director-General Lin Chun-liang said that his agency, which is part of the science ministry, would work with the economic ministry’s Industrial Technology Research Institute and Industrial Development Bureau on the program.

The institute would develop the satellite’s communications payload, while the space organization is in charge of the development of the satellite’s mechanical components and ground station control, Lin said.

After the satellite is launched, the government would encourage local firms to get involved in the development of six other communications satellites, he added.

The space organization is supporting three CubeSat programs developed by local researchers, Wu said.

The Ionospheric Dynamics Explorer and Attitude Subsystem Satellite, developed by National Central University, and the YuSat, developed by National Taiwan Ocean University and local firms, would be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday next week, Wu said.

The NutSat, developed by National Formosa University, is scheduled to be launched in June, Wu said.

The three CubeSats have already been delivered to the US, Lin said.

In related news, the science ministry said it has submitted a space development draft bill for review to the Executive Yuan.

The science ministry is seeking to upgrade the space organization and outsource it from the National Applied Research Laboratories, which is also governed by the ministry, Wu said. Taipei Times

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