On Jan. 1, the Act for the Establishment of the Taiwan Space Agency officially went into effect, converting the National Space Organization (NSPO), formerly part of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs), into the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA), a newly established legal entity under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). NSTC Minister Wu Tsung-Tsong stated that the Executive Yuan fully supports the development of national space science and technology, and NSTC is collaborating with various ministries and the industrial sector to lay out the blueprint for Taiwan's space development in terms of policy, planning, law, and industry. The establishment of the Taiwan Space Agency demonstrates that Taiwan is proactively moving into a new era of space development and that Taiwan has the ambition to compete in the global space arena.
While the Chinese name (國家太空中心) of the new space agency will remain the same, the English name has been changed from the National Space Organization (NSPO) to the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA), which not only makes its abbreviation more readable, but also will enhance international recognition by adding "Taiwan" in the name.
The National Space Organization was established in 1991 as the National Space Laboratory PROVisional Office, whose purpose was to build up Taiwan's space infrastructure and train talent. 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 as the National Space Organization (NSPO).
NSPO launched FORMOSAT satellites 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 in 1999, 2004, 2006, 2017, and 2019, respectively; of those, FORMOSAT-5 and 7 are still in service. FORMOSAT-1 is a science satellite, while FORMOSAT-2 and 5 are remote sensing satellites. FORMOSAT-3 and 7 are meteorological satellites. Through these satellite launches, NSPO built up the ability to develop satellites autonomously.
Now, Taiwan's space technology has 30 years of history. As the international space economy gradually took off, the government seized the opportunity to expedite the Space Development Act, which took effect on January 20, 2022 and strengthened the expansion of space affairs. In accordance with the act, the promotion of space affairs and activities must fall under the responsibility of a specialized legal entity. Therefore, NSTC made plans to transform NSPO into a non-departmental public body and assign it even more tasks to develop Taiwan's space technology and industry.
In the future, the Taiwan Space Agency will be responsible for developing and implementing national space programs, conducting technological research and development, and pROViding technology transfer and value-added applications. It will also promote international cooperation and exchanges, assist in guiding and upgrading the space industry and its technology, conduct legal research on space affairs, manage national launch sites, and handle launch vehicle and space vehicle registration and launch permit review. Additionally, it will be responsible for training personnel in the field of space technology and promoting space science education in the community.