University of Michigan graduate named to lead Taiwan’s space agency

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SEOUL, South Korea — Rocket scientist Wu Jong-shinn, who earned a doctor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, was named as director-general of Taiwan’s national space agency, the National Space Organization (NSPO), according to local reports.

His inauguration ceremony was held Aug. 2 at NSPO’s headquarters in the Hsinchu Science Park, with Wu Kuang-chong, president of the National Applied Research Laboratories, which supervises the space agency, attending.

In an inauguration speech, the new NSPO chief said he will try to “build a more comprehensive infrastructure for space technology in Taiwan and to develop the space industry and its supply chain,” according to Taiwan News. He added the Space Development Act, implemented in May, has paved the way for Taiwan to advance its space technologies.

The law lays the legal groundwork for Taiwan’s space development, including respect for international conventions and related regulations, environmental protection and sustainable development, disclosure of relevant information on space development in accordance with the principles of national security and interests, and promotion of space science. The law also seeks to improve public understanding of the country’s space policy and nurture talents in the industry.

Wu’s primary tasks in office may include developing Taiwan’s own low Earth orbit satellites. In July, Taiwan’s science and technology minister Wu Tsung-tsong called the development of LEO satellites “an opportunity Taiwan definitely cannot afford to miss.”

The new NSPO director-general received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from National Taiwan University (NTU) in 1986 and 1988, respectively, and a doctor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan in 1994, according to NSPO’s website. Prior to being appointed NSPO chief, he served as a distinguished professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan.