First Taiwan-developed satellite to launch on August 25

The satellite was shipped to the U.S. Saturday and will undergo its final testing before being launched by SpaceX's Falcon 9.

FORMOSAT-5 was ready to be shipped. (Source: NSPO)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — FORMOSAT-5 (福爾摩沙衛星五號), the first entirely domestically developed satellite operated by Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO,國家太空中心) was packaged and shipped to the U.S. Saturday for the launch by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket August 25 (Taiwan Time) in California, reports said. 

FORMOSAT-5 is the first remote sensing satellite designed, manufactured, and controlled by the NSPO and domestic teams. Succeeding FORMOSAT-2, which was decommissioned in 2016, FORMOSAT-5 will embark on a five-year mission, orbiting around the globe to conduct earth observation, according to the NSPO.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) visited the NSPO in Hsinchu Saturday to oversee the final shipment preparation of the satellite.

"We hope to push for the cooperation or expansion of the satellite-related industries and create opportunities for collaborations between Taiwan and other countries on manufacturing satellites," said Lin.

The high-resolution images taken by FORMOSAT-5 can contribute to state governance, national security, technological diplomacy, academic research, environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and relief, and international humanitarian relief, said Chen Liang-gee (陳良基), head of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

“This [the satellite] is the nation’s pride,” said Chen.

In collaboration with more than 50 industries and research institutes, the NSPO has researched and developed the satellite since 2009 with a budget of over NT$5 billion dollars (US$180 million), said Chen.   

Chang Guey-shin (張桂祥), director general of the NSPO, said that the satellite is due to arrive in the U.S. on July 20. It will undergo a final test before being integrated into Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket on August 16 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (范登堡空軍基地) in California.

The launch of FORMOSAT-5 was originally scheduled for 2016 but was delayed due to an explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in September which disrupted the following rocket launch schedules. 

Falcon 9 is a two-stage launch vehicle that can transport satellites and spacecraft into earth orbit. Built by SpaceX, a private aerospace company set up by Tesla founder Elon Musk in 2012, Falcon 9 is the first rocket capable of re-flights.