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2003-12-23 14:56:04

    Taipei, Dec. 23 (CNA) A scientific space exploration rocket will be launched from a base in southern Taiwan Tuesday evening as part of the work of Taiwan's space program, according to an official from the National Science Council (NSC).

    The space exploration rocket, the third of its kind to be built by the military Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CIST), will be launched in the evening from a CIST base located in Chiupeng, Pingtung County, NSC Vice Chairman Hsieh Ching-chih said.

    The launching of the horizontal rocket, whose range is not in excess of 300 kilometers, is mainly aimed at gaining better observation capabilities of the earth's ionosphere, Hsieh said.

    Noting that objects placed in orbit under 300 km from the earth's surface are highly prone to falling back to earth, Hsieh said that no satellites fly in the region between 60 km and 400 km above the earth's surface. This part of the ionosphere has long been referred to in jest as an "uncharted zone," he said.

    The rocket will be carrying scientific instruments to explore and measure the ionosphere. According to Hsieh, the first such rocket was successfully launched about three years ago, but it did not carry any research gear. The second rocket of its kind did carry such equipment, but its launch two years ago failed, he said.

    Taiwan's space program, under the charge of the NSC Space Program Development Preparatory Office, is aimed at carrying out the research, development and launch of basic space exploration rockets before 2009 and of multi-functional space exploration rockets by 2018, he noted.

    The CIST builds and launches the rockets under a contract signed with the NSC Space Program Development Preparatory Office at a cost of NT$25 million (US$735,294) per unit, he said.

(By Deborah Kuo)


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