The launch of weather satellite Triton, or Wind Hunter (獵風者號), has been postponed to 2022 due to component delivery delays, while cuts in the government budget have affected other satellite projects, the National Space Organization (NSPO) said yesterday.
The NSPO last year said that Triton would be launched by French rocket supplier Arianespace in the second half of next year from French Guiana, although its Web site had said that the launch was scheduled for June 2022.
NSPO Director-General Lin Chun-liang (林俊良) yesterday confirmed the delay, saying that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign suppliers could not deliver some components in time, including two solar energy panels.
The nation is working to become more independent in space technology development to reduce uncertainty and costs in satellite development, Lin said.
Triton has a NT$1.23 billion (US$41.87 million) budget, with more than 85 percent of its components developed in Taiwan, he said.
Critical components, including for its Global Navigation Satellite System-Reflectometry (GNSS-R) system, its hydrogen peroxide system, its onboard computer, power control unit, GPS receiver and fiber-optic gyro, were developed by the NSPO in collaboration with other local academic or industrial partners, he said.
The low-Earth orbit satellite would gather GNSS signals reflected from the Earth’s surface, which would help with research on soil characteristics and air-sea interactions, as well as boosting typhoon intensity predictions, the NSPO said.
The NSPO faces a budget cut of more than NT$500 million from its proposed budget of more than NT$2 billion for next year, Lin said.
Lin did not comment on a cause for the cut, but said it would affect the development schedule of Formosat-8, a constellation of six high-resolution optical remote sensing satellites.
While the Executive Yuan last year agreed to allocate NT$25.1 billion for the third space technology development program, the NSPO’s annual funding might be adjusted every year, Lin said.
The first of the Formosat-8 satellites is scheduled to be launched in June 2023, the NSPO’s Web site showed.
Meanwhile, three cubesats commissioned by the NSPO and built by National Central University, National Formosa University, MoGaMe Mobile Entertainment Co and National Taiwan Ocean University are to be part of a rideshare launch by SpaceX in December, Lin said.
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