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Development of Space Tech in Taiwan

India city lights at night. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

In many countries, space technology plays an important role in various fields, including scientific research, communications, healthcare, environment, sport and many others. Given the significance of space technology, the President of Taiwan vowed to place space technology at the heart of Taiwan’s industrial development plans through enhanced academia-industry-government collaboration. The President’s statement underscored the government’s commitment to cementing the country’s position in global supply chains.

Space development is one of the Taiwanese government’s top priorities, as demonstrated by the passing of the Space Development Act and a plan to invest US$906.62 million in the space sector over the next decade. Taiwan has six core strategic industries which comprise information and digital technology; cybersecurity; biotech and medical technology; national defence; green and renewable energy; and strategic stockpile industries. This will help secure Taiwan’s technological leadership while capitalising on business opportunities such as the launch of low-orbit satellites.

The President also emphasised that Taiwan must secure a strategic position in the space industry’s supply chain by leveraging its competitive edge in semiconductor and precision engineering. To that end, Taiwan’s leader called for cooperation between governments, the private sector and academia to launch a local team dedicated to manufacturing satellites and ground station equipment as soon as possible.

Taiwan needs to find a niche in the supply chain with a strategic significance and the government will support the move legally and financially, referring to the legislation of the Space Development Act in May and the 25.1 billion New Taiwan dollars ($906 million) budget.

Every country in the world is racing against time to go to space. Tens of thousands of satellites are expected to be sent into low Earth orbit in the next decade, generating massive demand for satellite and ground equipment manufacturing. The next decade is very crucial as many nations are also planning to return to the moon and Taiwan must secure a more strategically significant position in the New Space Age.

According to a page, the primary focus of Taiwan’s Long-term National Space Technology Development Programme is satellite development. Having laid the foundation for indigenous space technology in the first and second phases of the programme, the nation is now launching the third phase, which will run from 2019 to 2028.

The programme aims to push domestic aerospace technology to new heights and meet the challenges of cutting-edge space missions. At the same time, the programme also aims to extend and spread the benefits of the aerospace technology industry, nurture space technology talent, and build an aerospace industry supply chain of Taiwan’s own.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan is stepping up efforts to tap into the global aerospace market, with a particular focus on developing a specific kind of satellite. Among different market segments, those related to the development of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are particularly worth pursuing for Taiwan. Those satellites, often designed in constellations, have a shorter life cycle — between two to four years, compared with larger ones and therefore offer more of an opportunity for Taiwanese businesses.

In addition, LEO satellites are crucial to the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), which has been pursued by global technology and communications heavyweights. That is because the relatively inexpensive LEO communication satellites can be launched in large enough numbers to economically provide sufficient bandwidth for the data transmission required by the IoT.

The space development promotion act is expected to help. The act, which will regulate the country’s space-based activities, shows the world Taiwan’s ambition to carve out its own niche in the space economy.

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