Monday, December 19, 2011

US qualms may have nixed Taiwan space launch program

Potential military applications may have prompted Washington to apply pressure on Taiwan not to embark on an indigenous satellite launcher program

US fears that an indigenous satellite launcher capability for Taiwan could help it develop longer-range missiles may have forced Taipei to abandon, or at least delay, the project, sources told the Taipei Times.

After years of relying on foreign space-launch capabilities to lift payloads into space, reports began emerging in 2008 that Taiwan’s National Space Program Office (NSPO) had long-term plans to develop an indigenous satellite and launcher for scientific use.

At the Fourth Asian Space Conference that year, a paper presented by NSPO officials said the agency’s first choice to launch FORMOSAT-6, a micro-satellite under development to carry out scientific investigation, would be the Taiwan Small Launch Vehicle (TSLV).


A cable from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) dated April 6, 2009, reported that then-NSPO director-general Miau Jiun-jih (苗君易) had informed the AIT five days earlier that the agency’s long-term plan called for Taiwan to develop an indigenous satellite and launcher and that Taiwan was “very keen for US reaction to that plan.”

The cable said Miau had told the AIT that the TSLV would be locally built in cooperation with CSIST and used to propel locally made satellites weighing between 50kg and 200kg into orbit. A test launch for a 50kg satellite — very likely FORMOSAT-6 — was scheduled for next year to collect data on disaster management and environmental observation.

Based on the lack of progress in developing a TSLV, it appears the US reaction to the plan was negative.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could you explain to me why USA, which are considered as an ally of Taiwan in the region, always pressured Taiwan to not develop military capacities while China, which still threaten Taiwan's indepdance, have been activly grown its military ressources ?

I have this question for a long time, even about nuclear forces. Why did USA pushed back Taiwan when China, in october 1964, fired their fist bomb ?

In other words, why, while supporting Taiwan defense, do they keep them "weak" front of China ?