Taiwan boosts space program budget for a US$10 billion production value goal by 2025

Bryan Chuang, Taipei; Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: TASA

The first Taiwan International Assembly of Space Science, Technology, and Industry (TASTI 2023) recently opened in Taipei. Tsung-Tsong Wu, the Executive Minister of the National Science and Technology Council(NSTC), expressed the hope that Taiwan could make significant contributions to global space technology, similar to its contributions in the semiconductor field, in the coming decade.

Wing-Huen Ip, an academician at the Academia Sinica and one of the key proposers of the Cassini-Huygens project by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), also attended the event.

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan stated, in response to the development of the space industry in Taiwan, the government significantly increased the budget for its third-phase space program in 2019, raising it from NT$25.1 billion, as originally allocated by the Executive Yuan, to over NT$40 billion. The interim goal is to achieve a production value of NT$300 billion by 2025.

Tsung-Tsong Wu pointed out that the government began funding space projects in 1990, focusing mainly on academic missions over the past 30 years. However, with the active involvement of private industry in the space sector, Taiwan has also enacted the "Space Development Act." In 2023, Taiwan is hosting the first-ever international space assembly, signaling the government's desire for domestic companies to contribute to the space industry.

President Tsai highlighted the contribution of the satellite "Triton" to global meteorological observations and scientific research. Triton has demonstrated that Taiwan not only possesses advantages in semiconductors and precision manufacturing but is also capable of entering the global space industry.

President Tsai pointed out that Taiwan has been gradually putting the budget, legal framework, and infrastructure in place for the development of the space industry. The related production value has already exceeded NT$200 billion and is expected to increase by at least NT$80 billion by 2025, reaching nearly NT$300 billion, approximately US$10 billion. She welcomes experts and industry professionals from various countries to collaborate on building a more complete space industry chain.

The government plans to develop six B5G LEO satellites and ten remote sensing satellites, establish a national launch site, research and design rockets capable of launching satellites weighing over 100 kilograms into LEO, and conduct lunar missions. With a budget of NT$40 billion, resources are still relatively limited, and participation by private companies in tandem with a business model is crucial. Given the high risks involved in the space industry, most Taiwanese manufacturers and startups currently focus on ground-based or satellite communication components. The stance of legislative caucuses regarding increased space budgets is yet to be observed.

In addition to Wing-Huen Ip, who published over 60 articles in top international journals like "Nature" and "Science," the opening ceremony was attended by diplomats and representatives from countries with representative offices in Taiwan, including Paraguay, Canada, the United States, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Poland, Luxembourg, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.

Officials from NSTC stated that the site selection for the national launch site has yet to be determined. However, the development of satellite manufacturing, launch services, ground equipment, and application services is the confirmed direction. The government aims to drive industry upgrades and establish an independent satellite supply chain by developing domestic satellite projects. In terms of ground equipment, the focus will mainly be on developing remote sensing and communication mobile ground equipment, as well as ground equipment needed for multi-mode, multi-orbit satellite services.