The ARGO / FORMOSAT-5 program with the National Space Agency of Taiwan (NSPO) was one of the first large SpaceTech satellite contracts.
In 2005 SpaceTech, in cooperation with Carlo Gavazzi Space (CGS) in Milan, Italy, won the contract for the Taiwanese ARGO mission against strong international competition. After the procurement of two earth observation satellites FORMOSAT-1 and FORMOSAT-2 from abroad, the Taiwanese National Space Organisation (NSPO) as the customer intended ARGO to be the first satellite to be designed and developed in Taiwan.
SpaceTech and Carlo Gavazzi Space signed responsible for
- satellite system engineering support to NSPO
- hardware development support to NSPO and domestic industry
- world-wide procurement of the major portion of the satellite hardware.
In 2008 NSPO decided to replace the initially intended RapidEye camera with a 2 m ground resolution earth observation camera to be entirely self-developed in Taiwan with domestic industry. In order to outline the significance of this step the program was renamed to FORMOSAT-5.
The new contract established for FORMOSAT-5 has been signed between NSPO and SpaceTech in 2009 with Carlo Gavazzi leaving the industrial team.
In addition to the system design support and equipment procurement, STI manufactured and delivered:
- the solar arrays
- the sun sensors
- the satellite structure
- and the cold gas propulsion system
After completion of STI activities in 2015, NSPO performed the final satellite integration and test campaign before the satellite waited for the launch opportunity on the Falcon 9 from SpaceX.
FORMOSAT-5 will operate in a sun synchronous orbit at 720-km altitude with 98.28-degree inclination angle. The primary payload is the optical Remote Sensing Instrument (RSI) with a 2-m resolution panchromatic (PAN, black & white) and 4-m resolution multi-spectral (MS, color) images. It consists of one PAN band with 12,000 pixels and four MS bands with 6000 pixels each. Further scientific instruments as secondary payload are under investigation and evalution. FORMOSAT-5 also hosts a secondary scientific payload, an Advanced Ionospheric Probe (AIP), developed by Taiwan’s National Central University.
FORMOSAT-5 has been successfully launched on the 24th of August 2017. This is a major milestone both for NSPO as being the first earth observation satellite being designed by Taiwan and for STI on its way to be a small satellite system provider.