Taipei, July 19 (CNA) The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) agreed Tuesday to propose a plan by the end of the year to extend the third phase of Taiwan’s long-term space development program and back a funding boost for technology that could help seniors as local society ages in 2024.
The plans were endorsed by NSTC members in a meeting Tuesday, but any decisions and budgets would still have to go through a review by the Executive Yuan and then be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for final approval in the coming months.
For the space program, the NSTC hopes to extend the third phase of the long-term national space technology development, which was to run from 2019 to 2028, by three years to 2031, NSTC head Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠) said at a press event after the meeting.
Taiwan had planned to launch six low-orbit satellites by 2028 to boost communications, but the inability of Taiwan’s low-orbit satellite industry to make or launch satellites early on delayed the program, requiring an extension, Wu said.
With the help of funds injected by the government into the program, the satellite industry will eventually be in charge of next-generation (Beyond 5G, B5G) communications technology, Wu said.
The NSTC chief was also asked about progress in the space development program’s first earth-observing “Formosat-8” satellites. He said those six satellites will be sent into orbit between 2024 and 2029 after some delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Yuan said the first and second phases of the program between 1991 and 2018 laid the foundation for domestic satellite development and elevated Taiwan’s overall space science and technology capabilities.
The third phase was devised to set up a space technology supply chain through satellite launches and participation in the global space market.
Meanwhile, the NSTC approved on Tuesday a proposal to invest more in the long-term care industry, given that Taiwan is expected to become a super-aged society in 2025, in which more than 20 percent of the population is aged 65 and over.
The NSTC backed proposals that it hopes will increase the value of the long-term care industry to over NT$300 billion (US$9.65 billion) in 2025, which will benefit people 65 and over both digitally and physically.
In another area, the council supported proposals to invest more in panel technology that will be applied to fields such as airport gates, commercial advertisements and smart panels for bus stops, according to the NSTC.
The NSTC approved a total of NT$143.8 billion in funding for these proposals, with NT$123.8 billion coming from the 2024 budget and an additional NT$20 billion from the Executive Yuan, the NSTC said in a statement.
Wu said the approved proposals for technology development will also include zero carbon emission projects and basic scientific research.
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