“Taiwan will be a part of the global space ecosystem”, declared Chong-Sin Wu, the newly appointed director of Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO).
A pioneer in Taiwan’s rocket science development, Wu is reaching for the stars: in a bid to make Taiwan an internationally recognized brand, Wu aims to expand Taiwan’s reach in space, focusing on areas such as space travel, space IoT and space blockchain.
Wu has set specific goals for Taiwan’s space industry. Firstly, it will continue on its FORMOSAT-8 program, in order to enhance its capability to develop earth remote sensing satellites. FORMOSAT-8 is one of the priorities of Taiwan’s “National Space Technology Long-Term Development Program” in Taiwan, currently entering its third phase. Secondly, through the development of FORMOSAT-8, Taiwan plans to build a verification platform for domestically-built components and sub-systems in partnership with industry players. Thirdly, NSPO will partner with Taiwan’s ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute) in developing Beyond 5G LEO satellites, payloads and other elements such as antennas and ground stations.
For those in Taiwan’s space industry, the government plays a crucial role in providing a verification platform. However, the general consensus is that the industry has to move beyond making components with low margins, which is unsustainable in the long term. Instead, it should move toward the role of a system integrator, a direction that the government should encourage.
However, a key collaborator in Taiwan’s YUSAT-1 satellite project called into the government’s ambitious agenda. Randson Huang, the general manager of Letscomm International Company, pointed out that Taiwan’s status as a non-UN member subjects it to geopolitical uncertainties: it is hard use certain orbits without the helps of other states.
Jack Chen, the founder of the image processing-focused Liscotech System Co. that has recently entered the space industry, pointed out that the industry has been challenged by long product life cycles and requirements for high customization. Furthermore, the industry’s high dependence on national budget had rendered it hard to allocate budgets with flexibility. Taiwan, he believes, needs to support indigenous system integrators that can supply the private sector as well.