TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. startup, SQUID3 Space Inc., has emerged as the champion of the 2023 RunSpace Innovation Challenge with a groundbreaking solution for enhancing satellite energy efficiency.
In 2019, the government introduced a three-phase space project with plans to invest NT$25.1 billion (US$778 million) over 10 years. Recently, the budget has been increased to NT$40 billion for the development of low-earth orbit communication satellites, the establishment of a national launch site, and talent cultivation. The initiative is expected to contribute to an increase of NT$80 billion in the space industry's output value by 2025, reaching approximately NT$300 billion.
Now in its second year, the RunSpace Innovation Challenge held by the Industrial Development Administration (IDA, formerly Industrial Development Bureau) aims to harness Taiwan’s space innovation talent and technological expertise.
Three winning teams posed for a photo. (IDA photo)
The championship team, SQUID3 Space Inc., developed a variable-color electronic tape, in which the exterior color of a satellite can be changed to achieve more energy-efficient thermal control. When the satellite is in a high-temperature environment, the tape reduces solar absorption to facilitate heat dissipation, while at lower temperatures, it increases solar absorption.
This self-regulating heat absorption and dissipation feature can significantly reduce the power consumption of satellite heaters, mitigate temperature fluctuations caused by environmental changes, and alleviate thermal stress. The solution earned the team a prize of NT$200,000 (US$6,159).
The championship team developed a variable-color electronic tape to achieve more energy-efficient thermal control for satellites. (IDA photo)
The third-place team, and the recipient of the " Sponsor’s Favorite" award, is a cross-disciplinary team of students from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. The team proposed the development of a remote-controlled space unmanned drone called "EVAid" designed to assist astronauts in executing missions in extreme space environments. The team installed ion thrusters at various angles that enable EVAid to move in multiple dimensions in space, creating a safer and more reliable tool for future space exploration.
The third-place team and the recipient of the "Sponsor’s Favorite" award proposed the development of a remote-controlled space unmanned drone to assist astronauts in executing EVA missions. (IDA photo)
The first edition of the competition last year drew the participation of nearly 50 teams, and this year the number of applicants rose to 70. The majority of the entries deal with topics such as space agriculture, space cleanup, biotechnology, and space cybersecurity, which are major international concerns. The "Satellite Services" category makes up 33%, and "Ground Equipment and Services" accounts for 16%.
During the contest, various training activities were organized, including space business practical seminars and English elevator pitch skill classes for presenting proposals to international investors. These activities aimed to assist teams in developing innovative and commercialization skills, fostering interdisciplinary talents in the space field.
For the first time, overseas space associations and businesses were invited to participate in the contest. This included experts from Thailand's National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and the Bulgarian CubeSat company EnduroSat, who engaged in exchanges with the participating teams during the training sessions, providing the teams with insights into the latest trends and applications in the satellite industry. Additionally, these experts served as guest judges in the final competition, offering feedback to the participating teams from an international perspective.
In the coming year, the RunSpace Innovation Challenge will expand its reach by attracting talent and promoting greater participation from international teams. The Industrial Development Administration will also extend invitations to overseas partners to contribute their resources in the competition, bolstering a platform dedicated to nurturing talent and fostering valuable industry exchanges. This strategic initiative will serve to facilitate increased opportunities for cross-border collaboration.