Taipei, Taiwan, December 9, 1998 -- The National Science Council (NSC) of the Republic of China has chosen China Airlines to fly the nation's first satellite from Taipei to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. China Airlines' special Boeing 747 freighter lifted off from Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport at 3:50 a.m. in the morning of December 9 carrying the ROC SAT-1 satellite and its peripheral equipment-- totaling more than 23 tons in weight-- and landed in Florida in the morning of the same day, local time. The satellite will undergo final preparation in Florida and will be boosted into orbit on January 27, following which China Airlines will transport the peripheral support equipment back to Taiwan. This is the second time that the satellite has flown with China Airlines, the first time was in May last year when it was brought to Taiwan for assembly.
This ROC SAT-1 is the first satellite that will be orbited in the ROC's 15-year space program. China Airlines began preparations long ago to assure the error-free execution of this extraordinarily significant mission, sending specialists as early as mid-November to work with experts in the NSC's space project office at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park in packing up the satellite and other equipment for shipping, and arranging for specialists at the airports in both Taiwan and Florida to provide guidance in loading and unloading operations. The NSC sent five satellite specialists to accompany the craft on its trip.
According to China Airlines, the satellite and its supporting equipment was loaded onto 16 pallets measuring 125 inches (3.18 meters) long and 96 inches (2.44 meters) wide. The 13 pallets carrying supporting equipment were transported to Taoyuan International Airport in the early afternoon of December 8, and the three pallets with satellite itself and its auxiliary equipment were delivered to the airport around midnight.
China Airlines' scheduled cargo flights serve all areas of the globe, and the company has abundant experience at transporting everything from delicate instruments and priceless artworks to massive pieces of machinery and live animals. That experience, plus careful planning and all-out coordination, ensured the successful completion of the satellite transport mission.
China Airlines has rapidly upgraded its cargo operations in recent years, in terms of both improved service quality and expanded cargo capacity. According to statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), China Airlines entered the ranks of the world's top ten cargo-carrying airlines in 1997. In Taiwan, of course, China Airlines is firmly entrenched in the first place.