Oct 15, 2015

Formosat-5 slated for February 2016 launch

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Taiwan’s Formosat-5, an ultra-high-resolution Earth observation satellite operated by the Hsinchu City-headquartered National Space Organization, is scheduled for launch in February 2016, according to the NSPO.

With over 70 percent of the satellite having been developed domestically, Formosat-5 contains a locally made optical remote sensing payload, a Cassegrain telescope-type remote sensing instrument and the world’s first complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor linear image sensor.

NSPO Director-General Chang Guey-shin said Oct. 15 that the satellite has passed space environment and function tests and is set to take over duties from Formosat-2, which has been in orbit since 2004.

“The system will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit 720 kilometers above the Earth for observation missions,” he said. “Due to its optimal orbit, the satellite boasts the capability of revisiting the same point every other day as well as capturing 2-meter resolution panchromatic images above Taiwan.”

According to Chang, Formosat-5 will be used for a diverse array of purposes in addition to academic research, following in the footsteps of its predecessors, which have proved instrumental in assisting disaster relief efforts while studying the impacts of climate change and global warming.

“Formosat-2 has captured images of major disasters around the world, like the Nepal earthquake in April, as well as the Tianjin explosion and Typhoon Soudelor in August,” Chang said. “It also played a significant role in the search and rescue efforts for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last year. We expect Formosat-5 to continue to excel in this regard when up and running in 2016.”

The NT$3.66 billion (US$113.3 million) project has seen its fair share of technological breakthroughs over the years, including the Advanced Ionospheric Probe unveiled in January. Chang said various Southeast Asian countries have expressed interest in acquiring some of the key technologies, such as the antenna, sensor and remote control system.

“Through the program, we have built up Taiwan’s capabilities for independent development of spacecraft and payload instruments, readying the country for space operations in the 21st century and beyond,” he said.

The launch of Formosat-5 is scheduled for late February next year at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, utilizing the Falcon-9 v1.1 rocket-powered spaceflight launch system of U.S.-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (YHC-JG)

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