TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan-based iPhone manufacturer Foxconn successfully launched two satellites into space on Sunday (Nov. 12) on a SpaceX rocket that took off from California, U.S.
The launch occurred in the early hours of the morning Taiwan time, and the satellites were in orbit about an hour later, Foxconn said in a statement, per CNA. The low-orbit satellites were developed in partnership with Taoyuan’s National Central University (NCU).
The satellites are named PEARL-1C and PEARL 1-H and are currently the largest cube type satellites in operation out of Taiwan. Taiwan’s cube satellite program began in 2017 with an eye on developing a commercial market.
As the satellites passed over Taiwan, ground-receiving teams successfully identified and returned the signals they sent. The satellites were developed as an education and research exercise and can be used for scientific and commercial applications.
NCU President Jing-Yang Chou (周景揚) said low-orbit satellites have played an important role in the Russia-Ukraine war. Zhou said that the university has now successfully launched five satellites, which shows the capabilities and independent research strength of the institution.
Falcon 9 launches SpaceX’s ninth dedicated rideshare mission pic.twitter.com/qVrNmGgvOZ— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2023
Director of the university’s space center Jann-Yenq Liu (劉正彥) said the development of the satellites involved several graduate students who were responsible for different parts of the project. Liu said that the process allowed the students to gain hands-on experience and build their knowledge of low-orbit satellite technology.
The race to deploy low earth orbit satellites for communications purposes has been heating up, as advances in technology bring the world closer to realizing connectivity for a third of the planet’s population that is still offline.
The European Union recently announced plans for six billion euros (nearly NT$195 billion) in funding for a new LEO satellite system. Space X’s Starlink has deployed nearly 2,000 satellites and applied for licenses for more than 40,000.
Members of the National Central University team that developed the satellites are pictured on Monday. (CNA, National Central University photo)