NARLabs' National Space Organization (NSPO), under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), has joined up with Taiwan's CPC Corporation, a leader in carbon fiber R&D, to plan the research and development of space-grade composite components for satellites. On July 8, a ceremony for the delivery of the components was held at the CPC Building in Taipei. The components delivered by the oil company to NSPO included an optical payload composite cylinder and high-pressure fuel tank/valve and pipe coating. Both parties also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Metal Industries Research and Development Centre in Kaohsiung, demonstrating their determination to jointly promote the satellite industry and enhance Taiwan's technological capabilities.
The ceremony was witnessed by Wu Tsung-Tsong, Minister of Science and Technology, and Wang Mei-Hua, Minister of Economic Affairs. CPC Chairman Lee Shun-Chin, who is also the convener of the Organic Materials Branch of the Circular Technology and Materials Innovation R&D District of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, delivered the satellite components to NSPO Director General Wu Jong-Shinn. After the ceremony, Director General Wu, Director Leu Goa-Shee of CPC's Green Technology Research Institute, and Chairman Lin Ren-Yi of the Metal Industries Research and Development Centre signed a memorandum of cooperation on space-grade composite components, deepening the determination of the three parties to collaborate in the field.
NSPO will utilize its past experience in the development of remote sensing satellites and commissioning overseas satellite launches and integrate CPC's strengths in developing carbon fiber composite materials to achieve their goal. Together with a domestic composite materials team, NSPO and CPC will jointly plan the development of space-grade composite material components. The ceremony also served as an opportunity to demonstrate two initial results of the collaboration, including an optical payload composite cylinder and a high-pressure fuel tank/valve and pipe coating technology.
CPC Corporation indicated that the optical payload composite cylinder is a structural element on the high-precision optical lens of a remote sensing satellite payload. In order to adapt to space conditions and rapid temperature changes, every aspect of the optical payload composite cylinder must be taken into consideration, from the selection of low-absorbency materials, composite laminate design, and mold design to manufacturing. Only then will the final product not contaminate the lens and successfully prevent the lens from shifting due to deformation caused by temperature changes.
The satellite itself is propelled by hydrogen peroxide fuel (H2O2). However, due to material compatibility issues, Taiwan currently relies on foreign manufacturers' stainless steel coating technology to impROVe the tolerance of components and piping systems to hydrogen peroxide fuel. CPC Corporation and NSPO, with the assistance of the Metal Industries Research and Development Centre, have begun R&D and testing of high-pressure fuel tank/valve and pipe coating technology and equipment with a high chemical tolerance. At the ceremony, they demonstrated their results for the first time.
CPC Chairman Shun-Chin Lee explained that the carbon fiber composite materials used in NSPO satellite programs in the past were all manufactured overseas and imported to domestic composite material manufacturers to be constructed, or otherwise fully manufactured and constructed into components overseas. In addition, the high-pressure fuel tank/valve and pipe coating technology needed for satellite propulsion also is dependent on foreign countries, which has a considerable impact on the development of domestic satellites. Therefore, CPC will help pROVide domestically developed composite materials and equipment for design, analysis, and prototyping in accordance with NSPO's specifications and guidance. The components will then be sent to NSPO for testing and verification.
NSPO Director General Wu stated that because the satellite works in a vacuum, it is susceptible to differences in temperature up to 200 degrees Celsius depending on whether it is facing the Sun, in addition to damage by space radiation. Therefore, its material must be lightweight, have high rigidity (low deformation), and be resistant to radiation. In the past, these materials and their designs have often been restricted overseas. However, now that CPC has invested in the R&D of these components and completed design and production, Taiwan will have more freedom in satellite design, pROVided the components successfully pass testing.
This process is not only an important milestone for the autonomy of Taiwan's satellite industry, but also for the transformation of CPC through its R&D of high-level materials, adding a burst of momentum in the upgrade of Taiwan's technology industry. The demonstration of the initial results of this collaboration and the signing of the memorandum are proactive steps taken by NSPO, CPC Corporation, and the Metal Industries Research and Development Centre to show their technical strength and determination to build up Taiwan's space technology capabilities. Together, they will make a significant contribution to the development of Taiwan's space technology industry.