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Taiwan’s first private rocket gets permission to launch from South Australia

Three Hapith I launches planned before end of 2021, says Taiwan Innovative Space

Taiwan Innovation Space Company's Hapith I rocket.

Taiwan Innovation Space Company's Hapith I rocket. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Innovative Space Company (tiSPACE) has received its first rocket launch permit from the Australian government, the company announced on Monday (Aug. 23).

The Taiwanese company worked with Southern Launch, an Australian company that has its own launch facility in South Australia, and tiSPACE has planned several launches after the first test launch of its Hapith I hybrid rocket. According to CNA, the rocket measures 10 meters in height and 1.5 m in width and weighs three tons at launch.

In a joint media release issued by the Australian Ministry for Industry, Science and Technology and the Ministry for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the approval is described as “an exciting moment that adds to the growing momentum in Australia’s space sector.” The Taiwanese company, which specializes in commercialized space launch technology, said it aims to become one of “the key players in the new frontier of the global commercial space market.”

In 2020, tiSpace attempted to launch the Hapith I rocket in Taitung. However, the launch, which had been delayed once already over land rights issues, was canceled at the last minute due to weather conditions.

The launch had attracted a crowd of roughly 1,000 spectators at Liubetj, the Paiwan village used as the launch site. They, along with locals who had hoped the launch could revive the village’s regressing economy, were ultimately disappointed, CNA reported.

The challenge facing tiSPACE reflects the underdevelopment of Taiwan’s space industry and related infrastructure.

Taiwan's government has taken its first steps to develop a domestic space industry, having passed a new Space Development Act earlier this year in May. In August, “Rocket Uncle” Wu Tsung-hsin (吳宗信) was appointed as director-general of the National Space Organization, and he vowed to build comprehensive infrastructure to promote the development of space technology in the country.