ECCT Space Day in Hsinchu
The NSPO was established in 1991 and is the sole institute in charge of the execution of Taiwan's national space programme and the development of space technology in Taiwan. The NSPO is actively working to build self-reliance in space technology through the execution of its FORMOSAT-5 and FORMOSAT-7 satellite programmes, which focus on remote sensing and meteorology.
Given the speed at which satellites travel, getting an image of a targeted area requires very precise timing. For example, taking a photo one second too late from one of the FORMOSAT satellites would capture an image eight kilometres off target.
From the Operation Control Center visitors were taken to an observation deck overlooking the Satellite Integration & Testing Facility. Here they viewed engineers working on real satellites and putting them through various tests. In the first testing phase, satellites are subject to acoustic and vibration tests to make sure they can withstand the noise and vibration required to get launched into orbit. In the second phase, they are placed in vacuum chambers (to simulate space conditions) and are subjected to extreme temperatures (as low as -200 degrees and as high as 170 degrees celcius).
After the tour, visitors enjoyed lunch with guest speaker Lin Chen-tsung, director of the NSPO's Flight Control Division and project manager of the FORMOSAT-7 project. In his presentation Lin spoke about the work he and a team he leads is doing to develop space-grade inertial reference unit MEMS sensors, space-grade GPS receivers and GNSS-reflectometry instruments. Lin explained that components for satellites have to be not only extremely accurate but also extremely robust to survive first their launch into space and then the harsh conditions of space, where temperatures range from minus 30 degrees celcius to 70 degrees and back again 14 times a day, depending on their proximity to the sun. Given that the maintenance of satellites is impossible (unless you have a space shuttle), every precaution has to be taken to ensure that all components are in perfect condition at the outset and that they work well with other components before they are launched into orbit.
After lunch, visitors enjoyed a coffee networking session with satellite technology experts.