New exhibition celebrates 40 years of U.S.-Taiwan space cooperation

TAIPEI (CNA) – An exhibition highlighting 40 years of cooperation between the United States and Taiwan on space exploration and astronomy and the achievements resulting from the partnership opened in Taipei today.

“This exhibit showcases the results of our strong partnership and highlights different aspects of U.S.-Taiwan space and astronomy cooperation in particular,” said American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen at a ceremony to launch the “U.S.-Taiwan Space and Astronomy Exhibition.” “We have worked together to develop weather satellites, a particle physics detector that sits onboard the International Space Station, and the world’s largest grouping of telescopes to study outer space,” he said.

The AIT Taipei chief said the exhibition also serves as a prelude to the launch of the U.S.-Taiwan COSMIC-2/FormoSat-7 weather satellites later this year.

“We look back at the strong foundation we have established together and also look forward to further strengthening our relationship over the next 40 years and beyond,” he said.

The exhibition, being held at the Taipei Astronomical Museum, runs until March 31. Admission is free.

In his address, Taiwan’s Science Minister Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said FormoSat-7 is the largest ever space cooperation between Taiwan and U.S. to date and will become a new milestone in bilateral cooperation in this field.

FormoSat-7 is a follow-on weather satellite constellation to Formosat-3/Cosmic. The launch date remains uncertain because it is unclear when the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will be ready.

It is expected to obtain three times as much data as FormoSat-3, the satellite Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau (CWB) and many of the world’s weather centers currently depend on, according to the CWB.

According to AIT, U.S.-Taiwan cooperation in terms of space and astronomy began with the 1994 design and manufacture of FormoSat-1, a scientific experimental satellite.

Taiwan also worked closely with the U.S. in the development of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) in 1995. The AMS is the particle physics detector referred to by Christensen and searches outer space for anti-matter and dark matter to answer questions about the origin of the universe.

In August 2017, FormoSat-5, Taiwan’s first domestically-developed remote sensing satellite, was launched by SpaceX in the U.S.

The exhibition is being held as part of the AIT’s ongoing series of events to mark the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) this year.

The TRA was signed in April 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, providing a legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

By Joseph Yeh