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First Successful Contacts between FORMOSAT-7 and Taiwan Ground Stations NSPO

2019/06/25

FORMOSAT-7 satellites were launched by the Falcon Heavy of US Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) at 14:30 p.m. on June 25th, Taiwan time (2:30 a.m. on June 25th, US Eastern Time), at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, USA. At 8:48 pm, FORMOSAT-7 satellites entered the communication range of the Taiwan Ground Stations while the third orbiting path, and successfully communicated with the ground stations located in Zhongli and Tainan. Shieh Dar-Bin, Deputy Minister of MOST at the National Space Organization (NSPO) of the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs), immediately expressed his congratulations to Wu Kuang-Chong, Vice President of NARLabs, and Lin Chun-Liang, Director General of NSPO.

FORMOSAT-7 satellites were shipped to the KSC in Florida, USA on April 16th, and immediately performed by various launch site integration and test and inspection activities, as well as satellites mate to the rocket activity. At 14:30 p.m. on June 25th (Taiwan time), FORMOSAT-7 satellites were carried by the Falcon Heavy rocket and launched into space. The six satellites were successfully separated from the rocket at 91-107 minutes after the launch, and entered into the parking orbit with the 720-kilometer altitude. After the launch, the Satellite Operations and Control Center (SOCC) of NSPO in Hsinchu began to do the orbit calculation after it successfully received the state vector of the satellite and the rocket at the separation moment, which was returned by the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. Then the Darwin Ground Station in Australia successfully acquired the satellite signals at 173 minutes after the launch, which was the first time that FORMOSAT-7 satellites were communicated with the ground station. FORMOSAT-7 satellites are orbiting the earth with period of about 97 minutes per orbit. On the third orbit, they successfully and officially communicated with the Taiwan Zhongli and Tainan Ground Stations at 20:48 p,m. Taiwan time.

Next, FORMOSAT-7 satellites will perform various system inspections. It is expected that all functional tests will be completed within one month after the launch, and then the satellite orbit will be adjusted. At this time, each satellite will be able to receive GNSS data from the US GPS and the Russian GLONASS satellites, and will begin to analyze data such as temperature, pressure, humidity, and electron density over the Earth. The Taiwan-US scientific team will collaborate on the comparison and correction of the data. It is expected that the FORMOSAT-7 measurement data will be available to the global meteorological community in the 7th month after the launch, but the distribution of observation data is not uniform; all six satellites will be deployed to a mission orbit of 550 km altitude in the 19th month after the launch, and will provide uniformly distributed occultation observation data at middle and low latitudes.