While it had considerably exceeded its original five-year design life, there was still some sadness in the Taiwanese space community that Taiwan’s Earth observation satellite, Formosat 2, had finally failed in orbit.
The Formosat-2 spacecraft lost one of its two remaining reaction wheels on 21 June 2016. Two of the original four reaction wheels had failed in 2011 and 2014, but a work-around had allowed observations to continue – albeit with considerably reduced efficiency. However, this time the loss was irrevocable.
Operated by Taiwan’s NSPO (National Space Program Office), the spacecraft was originally launched in May 2004 having been contracted by Matra Marconi Space and built by its successor Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space). The spacecraft’s daily revisit capability gave it the ability to rapidly turn-around 2m panchromatic resolution imagery of areas of interest on the planet – especially at times of international emergency or natural disaster.