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Is Taiwan planning to build 700 ground stations for its own Starlink satellite network?

With an emphasis on the importance of having an operational command and communication platform in a warlike situation, Taiwan appears to be accelerating efforts to develop its own variant of the Starlink satellite network.

According to Taiwan-based CM Media, the Taiwanese government is currently collaborating with the Ministry of Digital Development, the National Space Center, and private manufacturers to establish "Taiwan's version of the Starlink" system.

The project is being managed by the National Security Council. The project aims to create Taiwan's real-time, continuous communication network with the aid of low-orbit satellites.

Taiwan anticipates that if a conflict breaks out, key targets like communications and radar sites will be hit by the first wave of missiles, paralyzing their command and communication structure. This is due to China's growing threat.

The project's development has accelerated since it was first conceived in 2019, but this is in response to the recent conflict in Ukraine, which demonstrated how SpaceX's Starlink satellites were an essential tool for Ukrainian forces.

A group of Starlink satellites was seen from the International Space Station.

According to the updated report, the Department of Digital Affairs is now in charge of the advanced plan for space-based energy and industrial development, which was previously listed as being managed by the National Science and Technology Institute.

To test the functionality of "contingency communication services," the Digital Department will install "asynchronous orbital satellite" equipment at about 700 ground stations across the nation and three foreign stations.

70% of satellites are expected to have autonomous domestic components by the end of 2023. According to the report, the National Space Center actively supports the endeavor.

The country also doubled the target of deploying at least 20 communications satellites by 2030 in the three-phase space program.

The Space Center and Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) will launch the first two first-generation communications satellites.

In addition, a launch of an "upgraded version" is anticipated to help private manufacturers develop and improve the performance of the satellites.

The report estimates that space-based devices can transmit data at a rate of more than 2 Gbps. The affordability of satellite communication devices made possible by low-cost technology will be essential in boosting consumer demand for satellite services.

This new kind of space-based network may need 50 to 60 satellite signals to operate concurrently, according to a Taiwanese expert. Starlink will have more satellites than Taiwan's communication satellite network combined.

The expert added that they can still offer services of the same caliber by utilizing related technologies.

Why is Ukraine constructing a network of space-based communications?

Throughout the Russian-Ukrainian War, the Ukrainian army was able to maintain command and communication thanks to Starlink technology. In addition to locking targets, like Russian military vehicles, the space-based system also directs drones to carry out bombing operations.

Taiwan has been learning from Kyiv's tactics and war against a powerful foe ever since the conflict there began.

The perception of an impending invasion has only grown as a result of Beijing's aggression toward the island. Taiwan has increased its defenses in response and modified its military strategy to face the enemy.

Taiwan is looking into how Ukraine used satellites to communicate with the outside world while engaged in conflict, according to the minister of digital affairs. Taipei is particularly interested in the system's military applications.

An artist’s illustration of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites in orbit. (SpaceX)

According to the most recent report, synthetic aperture radar is an essential component of low-orbit satellites. If you can overcome the technical hurdle and improve the image resolution to less than 0.5 meters, this technology can withstand severe weather and has the same technical power as military satellites.

Space-based satellite communication systems are not constrained by these issues, unlike submarine cables, which can sustain damage from war or natural disasters.

The nation's main effort to maintain communications during a Chinese attack is a satellite trial program that will cost NT$550 million ($18 million) over the next two years to guarantee internet services over Taiwan. This effort was inspired by the situation in Ukraine.

With more than 40 businesses vying with foreign satellite producers, Taiwan is quickly catching up. The nation will be able to coordinate upstream and downstream to create a complete supply chain and ecosystem after introducing "Taiwan's version of Starlink."

SOURCE: EurAsian Times

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