South Korea and the Asian "Space Race"

South Korea and the Asian "Space Race"

The “space race” in Asia to date has focused on Japan, China and India, “but this will be the year that South Korea manifests itself as the definite fourth Asian player” reports The Korea Times.

South Korea will attempt a second launch of its KSLV-1 rocket this year. The first attempt failed last year when the South Korean-built fairing for the second stage did not separate properly. The KSLV-1’s first stage is built by Russia’s Khrunichev company, which has been helping the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) diagnose and resolve the problem. KARI’s President, Lee Joo-jin, stresses that the agreement with Russia permits no technology transfer so South Korea does not yet have the technological know-how to build an indigenous rocket. That is the goal, however, for a three-stage KSLV-II that KARI hopes to develop by 2019.

In addition to the KSLV-1 launch tentatively scheduled for May, other highlights for South Korea’s space program in 2010 cited by the newspaper are:

  • the March launch by Europe of South Korea’s COMS-1 geostationary meteorological/ocean surveillance satellite;
  • the launch late this year by Russia of South Korea’s KOMPSAT-5 (Korean Multipurpose Satellite-5) synthetic aperture radar satellite; and
  • release of South Korea’s “Vision 2030” in the first half of the year laying out its space program plans, including landing a robotic probe on the Moon by 2025.

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