TAIPEI — Taiwan is preparing to launch a new satellite in early 2016 that will be capable of a 2-meter resolution. US-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp.or SpaceX, will launch the FORMOSAT-5 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The FORMOSAT-5 will have a remote sensing imager that will provide 2-meter panchromatic (black and white) and 4-meter multispectral (color) spatial resolution. This is the first space program that where the National Space Organization (NSPO) takes full responsibility for the complete satellite system including payloads, said a representative of the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs). The revelation was made at the 2015 Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), being held Aug. 13-16 in Taiwan's capital, Taipei.

The government-funded NSPO of and NARLabs have worked together to produce a number of satellites, including FORMOSAT-1 (scientific experimental platform); FORMOSAT-2 (earth observation); FORMOSAT-3 (six micro satellites); and besides FORMOSAT-5 they are working on a FORMOSAT-7 (12 micro satellites) for launch in the 2016-18 time frame.

The solar-powered sun synchronous (720-kilometer) FORMOSAT-5 will have a five-year mission life. The primary mission load is an imaging sensor with a five-band multi system-on-chip complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (SOC/CMOS) sensor. The NARLabs representative would not comment on whether it was a military payload.

The second mission load, an Advanced Ionospheric Probe, is a "science instrument" made by the National Central University for researching the influence of ionosphere physical parameters on space climate and communication.

The FORMOSAT-7 program is a joint Taiwan NSPO and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration effort to deploy an extended 12-satellite constellation to continue the FORMOSAT-3 program to measure atmospheric and ionospheric soundings. The FORMOSAT program was formerly known as ROCSAT. FORMOSAT is a play on the older name of the island of Taiwan, known as Formosa. ROCSAT is an acronym construction of the Republic of China.

Also during TADTE, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) unveiled its new sounding rocket, the HTTP-3 Hybrid Sounding Rocket. The HTTP-3 is the biggest in a series of sounding rockets produced by NCTU since 2010. NCTU's Department of Mechanical Engineering has produced a total of five: HTTP-1 (2010), HTTP-2B (2013), HTTP-3S (2014), APPL-9B (2015) and now the HTTP-3, which is set for launch in 2016. The HTTP-3 can reach an altitude of 100 kilometers and can be recovered from sea. It has a 2two-stage hybrid propulsion — 3,500 kilogram-force (kgf) for 12 seconds and 1,000 kgf for 45 seconds. The avionics are fully integrated with a flight computer, a navigation data computer and a controller area network bus.

The HTTP-3 is the biggest in a series of sounding rockets produced by National Chiao Tung University since 2010.

Photo Credit: Wendell Minnick/Staff

Many of the NCTU graduates go on to work on indigenous missile programs in the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST). CSIST has produced a variety of missile systems, including the Tien Chien (Sky Sword) air-to-air missile, Tien Kung (Sky Bow) air defense missile and the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) anti-ship missile. CSIST also has a new cruise missile, dubbed the Hsiung Feng 2E, and is possibly working on a short-range cruise missile based on the Tien Kung series.