Taiwan’s indigenous FORMOSAT-5 arrives at Vandenberg to prepare for SpaceX launch

Formosat-5 leaving Taiwan. Image courtesy of National Space Organization, Taiwan.

Taiwan’s first indigenously-developed high-resolution remote sensing satellite, FORMOSAT-5, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. A team of Taiwanese engineers welcomed the satellite to prepare for its launch slated for 24 August 2017, on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

FORMOSAT-5 was commissioned by Taiwan’s space agency, the National Space Organization, and in contrast to its previous three satellites, is completely indigenous. Jointly developed by a total of 50 Taiwanese teams comprising small companies, universities, and government bodies, work on the satellite began six years ago in 2011.

Weighing 475kg, FORMOSAT-5 will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit at a 720 km altitude, and will house an optical payload with a 4-metre resolution for colour images, and a 2-metre resolution for black-and-white images. It also contains an Advanced Ionospheric Probe, and other scientific instruments, as a secondary payloads.

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The satellite left Taiwan on 19 July 2017, flagged off with an official ceremony marking an historic moment in Taiwan’s space history. It was transported to Los Angeles via a China Airlines cargo aircraft, and arrived at Vandenberg on 26 July.

Taiwan’s space programme was established in 1991, and has so far commissioned four Earth Observation satellites, and a series of picosatellites and smallsats. It also has an active sounding rocket programme, which develops indigenous multi-stage hybrid rockets.


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