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Taiwan shoots for the stars with its plans to create national space center

Center to be tasked with developing satellite, rocket technologies

Rocket carrying Taiwan-developed satellite FORMOSAT-7

Rocket carrying Taiwan-developed satellite FORMOSAT-7 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is planning to establish a National Space Center in a bid to promote aerospace industries while allowing for better regulation on relevant commercial activities.

A draft bill on the country’s future space ambitions is currently open for public consultation. The bill calls for the National Space Organization, which currently is under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), to be reorganized into an independent agency.

A budget of NT$2.5 billion (US$87.4 million) has been set aside to carry out the initiative, which was discussed during a legislative review session on Thursday (Oct. 29). Around 5 percent of the funds will be frozen before a clearer picture of the plan is laid out, reported CNA.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) questioned President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration prioritization of satellite development over rocket technologies. Deputy MOST Minister Shieh Dar-bin (謝達斌) stressed that both fields of science will be given equal priority as relevant regulations are ironed out.

A key issue of the draft bill pertains to the launch of rockets, a practice that should be registered and permitted by relevant authorities. Violators will be subject to a hefty fine of up to NT$10 million (US$349,547) and a maximum prison sentence of five years.

A trial launch of the first domestically built rocket by Taiwanese aerospace company TiSPACE, which had been scheduled for February and later postponed to June but canceled due to weather and land use issues, has sparked controversy over national security risks as well as lack of regulation, according to UDN.