TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s government will build a rocket launch site for the long-term development of the country's space program, Wu Jong-shinn (吳宗信), head of the National Space Organization (NSO) said Tuesday (Aug. 24).
The plans were disclosed after the Taiwan-based commercial rocket company TiSPACE gained approval to launch its first rocket in Australia, after failing to find a suitable launch site in Taiwan, according to a CNA report.
TiSPACE will conduct a test flight of its Hapith I — a 10-meter, two-stage, sub-orbital science rocket — from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, which is operated by Southern Launch, Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said on Monday. The launch date will be determined by TiSPACE and Southern Launch in the coming months, Porter said.
Wu told reporters TiSPACE was unable to launch the Hapith I rocket in Taitung County as originally planned due to legal disputes. This forced the NSO to go back to the drawing board and make plans for another site. While they began considering a site in southern Pingtung, obtaining approval in Australia proved much faster than starting the application process all over again in Taiwan, Wu said.
The government, however, has a long-term plan to build a rocket launch site in Taiwan, Wu said, noting that the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) last year released a set of security guidelines for the launch of research rockets.
According to the guidelines, the launch site in Pingtung will only be temporary, and the plan cannot be finalized for now, as negotiations with local residents remain ongoing, Wu said. The NSO's ultimate aim is to build a permanent national rocket launch site for the long-term development of the nation's space program, he added.
The planning for that launch site is expected to begin sometime next year, after the expected passage of a draft bill on the country's future space development, which was put forth by MOST, Wu said. If the bill is passed, it will allow for the upgrade of the NSO to an independent agency directly under the science and technology ministry, he said, noting that currently, it is one of eight research centers under MOST's National Applied Research Laboratories.