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Taiwan's new satellite ready for transport to U.S.

2019/02/18 17:07:21

Image taken from National Space Organization website (www.nspo.narl.org.tw/fsimagery)

Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) The second satellite constellation jointly developed by Taiwan and the United States, FormoSat-7/COSMIC-2, is ready to be transported to the United States for its launch, the head of Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO) said Monday.

Once the U.S. issues the green light, whenever that is, the NSPO will start the process of transporting the six-satellite weather satellite constellation, NSPO Director-General Lin Chun-liang (林俊良) said.

FormoSat-7 will be launched by American company Space X at Kennedy Space Center in Florida using its newest rocket, the Falcon Heavy. It is third in line in the company's rocket launch schedule this year, according to the NSPO.

The timetable for the FormoSat-7's transportation and launch process remains uncertain, Lin said, but based on contractual terms, the U.S. will give Taiwan the go ahead to transport the satellite 60 days before it is scheduled to launch.

The official revealed that American personnel were in Taiwan in late January for the final verification of technical details of the new satellite constellation before it gets sent to the United States.

Preparations are currently being made for the Falcon Heavy's first commercial launch this year, scheduled for sometime in March at the earliest, and the results of that launch will affect when subsequent launches can proceed, the agency said.

FormoSat-7 will replace FormoSat-3, the first Taiwan-U.S. collaboration space program, with state-of-the-art instruments and equipment to collect meteorology, ionosphere and climate data.

Jointly developed by the NSPO and the U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the new satellite platform will deploy six satellites into low inclination orbits to provide low and mid-latitude ionosphere data.

Each satellite is equipped with three U.S.-built payloads, including a radio occultation (RO) receiver that receives global navigation satellite system signals from global positioning systems and Russian global navigation system satellites, according to the NSPO.

The data the RO receiver collects will be transmitted to the ground for retrieval and processing into useful atmospheric and ionospheric weather indicators such as temperature, pressure, water vapor content, and electron density, the NSPO said.

The other two payloads are an ion velocity meter (IVM) that directly measures the temperature, velocity and incidence angle of ions in the path of each FormoSat-7 satellite; and a radio frequency beacon, which measures irregularities in electron densities in the ionospheric layer.

The NSPO said FormoSat-7 will generate double the volume of data generated by FormoSat-3 and greatly increase the amount of low-latitude atmospheric and ionospheric data available, including for Taiwan.

That data will be incorporated into Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau data and forecast system to help improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and climate observation, the agency said.

In addition to the six mission satellites, the new space program also includes the Taiwan-built FormoSat-7R satellite, dubbed the "wind hunter" by the NSPO.

(By Liu Lee-jung and Elizabeth Hsu)
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