“Five, four, three, two, one, zero, ignition…Launch!" Carrying “YUSAT (aka Yushan)” and “IDEASSAT (aka Flying Squirrel)” CubeSats, the Falcon 9 rocket from US Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) was successfully launched at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), in Florida of the United States at 11:00 pm on January 24, 2021, Taiwan time.
On May 20, 2020, President Tsai Ing-wen declared in her inaugural speech that the space industry is one of the country’s six core strategic industries and listed Taiwan’s entry into the global space industry as a key indicator of Taiwan’s future industrial development. The development of the space industry requires the cultivation of talents, and the research and development of CubeSats is an essential part for cultivating space talents and developing the space industry. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has always strongly supported the development of space technology and has launched a series of satellites called FORMOSATs. In addition to "YUSAT" and "IDEASSAT" CubeSats, another "NUTSAT" CubeSat is scheduled to be launched in mid-2021. In the future, our goal is to launch one satellite per year.
About 59 minutes after the rocket launch, the two satellites will begin to separate from the rocket. The separated satellites will orbit the earth with an altitude of about 525 kilometers and at an inclination of about 97.5 degrees. It is estimated that the first communication with "YUSAT" and "IDEASSAT" CubeSats will occur at around 10:00 am, January 25th, Taiwan time. However, the actual communication time is required to wait for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to return the state vector at each satellite’s separation moment from the rocket in order for the ground station to calculate the simulated satellite position.
A CubeSat is made up of multiple cubic modules with a size of 10 × 10 × 11.35 cm and a mass of no more than 1.33 kg per unit. Each unit is called "1U". The 1.5U Yushan satellite was jointly developed by MoGaMe Mobile Entertainment Co. Ltd, LETSCOM Int. Ltd, and the Department of Transportation Science of National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU). The Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver and Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) receiver are two communication payloads on YUSAT aiming for the dynamic monitoring of ships and vehicles, business operations, traffic control, emergency rescue, homeland security and other purposes.
The 3U IDEASSAT (Ionospheric Dynamics Exploration and Attitude Subsystem Satellite) was developed by the Institute of Space Science and Engineering of National Central University. Its mission is to observe the ionosphere and verify satellite attitude control technology. It features a self-made ionospheric measurement instrument (Compact Ionosphere Probe, CIP), which is a reduced version of the Advanced Ionosphere Probe (AIP) carried by the FORMOSAT-5 satellite, and it can expand the ionosphere observation range and study the impact of the ionosphere on satellite communications.
Minister of MOST Wu Tsung-Tsong is very happy that the Falcon 9 rocket was launched successfully. He said that the space industry is an important part of the development and exploration of the blue ocean of future science and technology. He said National Space Organization (NSPO) of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) publicly selected three groups of CubeSat research and development teams, all of which are composed of domestic companies, university professors and students. The teams have spent three years in research, design, and development for CubeSats, and finally they are successfully launched today. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world, Taiwan’s space development can still proceed step by step. This achievement comes from the result of our joint efforts. Minister Wu also hopes that NSPO and all domestic industry-university-research teams will continue to improve Taiwan's space technology capabilities in the future.
Through CubeSat projects MOST hopes to cultivate a new generation of space technology talents, verify domestically made space components, promote the development of domestic CubeSat capacity, and promote CubeSat related business opportunities. The most important thing is to encourage domestic universities to start investing in space technology research and development, so that everyone recognizes that the universities and private institutions, in addition to the national-level space agency, can also develop satellite technology, actively nurture space talents, and support the booming international space industry in the future.
▲ YUSAT (aka Yushan) CubeSat
▲ YUSAT CubeSat during final inspection
▲ IDEASSAT (aka Flying Squirrel) CubeSat
▲ IDEASSAT team group photo