Taiwan to launch first satellite with 82% components sourced at home

Allen Hsieh, Taipei, Staff reporter, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: TASA

Taiwan's weather satellite, the Triton, is set to launch on September 20, 2023, from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. The satellite, sourcing 82% of its components from Taiwan, was developed by the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA) in cooperation with 20 other industrial partners, aiming to conduct researches on air-sea interaction and typhoon intensity prediction.

The 250-kilogram satellite is equipped with a global navigation satellite system-reflectometry (GNSS-R) instrument independently developed by TASA to collect the GNSS signal reflected by the earth surface.

In 2017, TASA launched the Formosat-5 satellite, which is used for remote sensing and disaster monitoring. The Triton marks a significant step forward for Taiwan's space program, and it demonstrates the country's growing capabilities in satellite development and space technology. The satellite will be launched on an Arianespace Vega C rocket.

Taiwan's space industry development primarily focuses on ground equipment, as the lack of domestic rocket launch capability makes it hard to validate the technologies designated for space applications. However, the low entry level of the ground equipment market as well as its growth potential also exposes Taiwan-based makers to growing external competition, such as those coming from Israel and South Korea. At the same time, Taiwan's space industry also faces a talent challenge, as it lags behind Western countries in terms of talent cultivation. The talent shortfall becomes more glaring as Taiwan's ICT suppliers expand their presence in the space sector.

For now, the Triton has demonstrated Taiwan's capability to independently manufacture satellites, and TASA plans to launch more satellites, eventually forming a constellation.