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Taiwan to Start Launching Bigger Satellites In-country by 2026

If satellites were a measure of technological advancement, Taiwan would still be in its infancy. Things are moving up, however. Taiwanese Science and Technology Minister Wu Tsung-tsong affirmed that the country could start launching locally made large satellites from within the country by 2026.

As of now, Taiwan is still putting all the pieces together to make that a reality. As gargantuan as the work is, the timetable set should enable them to move the project forward one step at a time. Facing questioning at the Legislative Yuan, the minister said he hopes construction of a base could start in east or southeast Taiwan in 2024. If things go as planned, work should be completed by 2025 in time for the first launch to be scheduled for 2026.

Satellite communications play a vital role in the global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems. Approximately 2,000 artificial satellites orbiting Earth relay analogue and digital signals carrying voice, video, and data to and from one or many locations worldwide.

However, building satellites is not easy. They’re incredibly complex, loaded with cutting-edge technologies and are required to operate in the harsh environment of space and deliver essential services for many years. What’s more, launching one, even a small satellite, is a tall order. As astronautical engineers often say that the most difficult part of any space mission is getting into Earth orbit.

At present, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) manages a launch centre for small rockets in the Pingtung County village of Hsuhai near the southeast coast. On the other hand, Taiwan’s major satellites are launched overseas, mostly in the United States.

Due to Taiwan’s geographical restrictions, the MOST is already looking for a site in eastern or southeastern areas closer to the equator.

– Wu Tsung-tsong, Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology

The ministry is focusing on finding just one location, but Hsuhai is not suitable because of its limited space. Also, the National Space Organisation has indicated 2026 will be the year locally made satellites can be launched from Taiwan.

Like any scientific experiment, every little detail must be calculated to ensure the success of a satellite launch. Thus, the location of the launch site plays a central factor in a successful endeavour. To note, rockets can most easily reach satellite orbits if launched near the equator in an easterly direction, as this maximises the use of the Earth’s rotational speed (465 m/s at the equator). Such launches also provide a desirable orientation for arriving at a geostationary orbit.

The Asian country has made strides in space technology. Recently, its homegrown GPS receiver passed the space test. It’s a great milestone. Still, it needs to do more to accelerate its satellite program.

The good news is Taiwan is definitely all-in when it comes to every aspect of the country’s digital transformation. Recently, it has dedicated research into quantum computing in Academia Sinica via its Southern campus. That’s another move forward as quantum computers are considered the next-gen computers that could make the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) closer to reality.

That leadership position is bound to attract more benefits for the island in the future. Thanks to its robust digital economy, Taiwan is set to win big when the automobile industry shifts fully into electric cars as reported on OpenGov Asia.

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