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NSPO Celebrates 30th Anniversary and Looks Toward the Future

2021 has been a pivotal year for the development of space technology and the space industry in Taiwan. On June 16th, President Tsai Ing-wen announced the Space Development Act, and NARLabs' National Space Organization (NSPO), an agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), is actively planning to become an independent administrative agency in order to bolster promotion of space-related work. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the NSPO's founding, MOST held a press conference on October 20th which highlighted four major missions for the future: building up local space industry, enhancing space technology capabilities, achieving a complete space infrastructure, and training diverse space talents.

In 1991, the National Science Council (NSC) of the Executive Yuan, which later became the Ministry of Science and Technology, established the National Space Laboratory PROVisional Office in accordance with the National Space Science and Technology Long-term Development Plan to develop space technology, establish a national space infrastructure, and train space talents. In 2003, the National Space Laboratory PROVisional Office was merged with other national laboratories under NARLabs and renamed the National Space Program Office, and in 2005 was again renamed the National Space Organization (NSPO). This year is the 30th anniversary of the agency's founding.

Striding into a New Era of Space Development

In his remarks, MOST Minister Wu Tsung-tsong stated that over the past 30 years, Taiwan's space-related development has had its ups and downs and has gone through many changes, but the NSPO has always overcome challenges and run successfully, and has demonstrated to the world that Taiwan has the ability to develop small satellites and that the spirit of the people of Taiwan is innovative, unyielding, and unafraid of failure.

Minister Wu pointed out that, considering the current situation of domestic space development and international trends, more attention has been paid to the development of space technology in Taiwan in order to enhance overall national strength since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. In 2019, The Executive Yuan passed the third phase of the National Space Science and Technology Long-term Development Plan to invest $25.1 billion NTD over 10 years, and in 2020, President Tsai officially listed the space industry as one of Taiwan's six core strategic industries during her second presidential inauguration speech. The Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of the Space Development Act in 2021, establishing a legal basis for Taiwan's space development. This shows that the government has created thorough guidelines in terms of planning, law and policy, and industry, and has gradually laid out a complete blueprint for Taiwan's space development which can enhance Taiwan's competitiveness in the global space arena as well as declare Taiwan's intention to connect with the international community and stride into a new era of space development.

Minister Wu expects the NSPO to continue to make progress in the research and development of space science technology as well as policy planning, and to take up the important responsibility of leading national space development after its restructuring as an independent administrative agency.

Becoming a Key Player in the International Arena

NSPO Director General Wu Jong-shinn illustrated the current status and prospects of Taiwan's space program, detailing NSPO's achievements from the past 30 years. In addition to preliminary completion of national space infrastructure, more importantly, the NSPO has built up Taiwanese space technology including small satellites, sounding rockets, satellite operation control, and satellite image processing. The Director General also emphasized that after the passage of the Space Development Act, the NSPO's mission for the future has been to build up Taiwan's space industry, enhance space technology capabilities, achieve a complete space infrastructure, and train diverse space talents so that Taiwan can become a notable player internationally in the areas of space technology, the space industry, and next-generation satellites.

In order to present a complete picture of its 30-year journey in implementing the nation's space program, the NSPO, with the support of MOST and in cooperation with CommonWealth Publishing Group, has officially released the book "FORMOSAT Launched Into Space", a history of the NSPO's efforts and growth over the past 30 years which allows readers to witness the trajectory of Taiwan's development of space technology.

30 Years of Effort Forms Backbone of International Advancement

When recommending "FORMOSAT Launched Into Space", NARLabs President Kuang-Chong Wu remarked that the book records in detail the NSPO's journey from humble beginnings to greatness, and also shows the foresight of previous generations. There were certainly many setbacks along the way, but the NSPO was always able to pass each hurdle and successfully sent an operational satellite into space, pROViding Taiwan with valuable telemetry images and impROVing the accuracy of meteorological forecasts, achievements which were universally praised.

"FORMOSAT Launched Into Space" introduces readers to the journey of Taiwan's space technology development by way of storytelling. It took the lead author over five years and more than one hundred interviews to complete the book, and through the oral accounts of the interviewees, the space program was brought to life, making the book a living history of space technology. The book contains ten chapters, starting with the launch of Taiwan's space program, followed by the establishment of the Space Program Office, the gradual construction of infrastructure, and the successful completion of the FORMOSAT-1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 satellite programs, which allowed Taiwan to leap onto the international stage of the space field. Through this book, readers can learn about the solid foundation that the NSPO has built over the past 30 years which will allow for Taiwan's future entry into the international space industry.