The satellite is expected to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in the first quarter of 2016 to replace FORMOSAT-2, which has been operating for over 10 years for earth observation missions since its launch in 2004.
The remote sensing instrument is very like a large space telescope and a crucial part, a charge-coupled device (CCD), has been in use in digital image sensing for 30 years. Even though the related technology is mature, it has been controlled by foreign enterprises and Taiwan has had difficulty obtaining it due to restrictions on technology exports thanks to its sensitive political situation.
Chang Guey-shin (張桂祥), director of the National Space Organization (NSPO) of NARLabs, said the organization has taken advantage of Taiwan’s electronics and semiconductor industries to develop a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor.
The NSPO said that CMOS has the edge in low cost, electricity conservation and speedy transmission of signals.
H.P. Chang (張和本), the program manager, said the team has had to overcome several challenges, including the innovative design and manufacturing of CMOS Image Sensor (CIS), carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) strut manufacturing, on-board image compression, and optical structure assembly and alignment over its five years of research.
Know-how accumulated from the development of the payload has given NSPO greater confidence toward future challenges of Taiwan’s space programs, he said.