South Korea Gears Up for More Satellites Launch to Monitor North Korea
South Korea is preparing to launch its second and third military reconnaissance satellites in April and November from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida, USA.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on the 8th that American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX’s Falcon 9, also used for the first satellite launched last December, will be employed to launch the second and third satellites.
These new satellites will be equipped with high-performance Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), enabling them to capture high-resolution images and gather information regardless of day or night and adverse weather conditions.
The military’s objective is to enhance its capabilities in detecting signs of North Korean nuclear and missile provocations and surveilling strategic targets in the terminal area. This will be achieved through complementary operations with the Project 425 No. 1 satellite (EO·IR satellite) launched last December. While EO·IR satellites provide more precise images than SAR satellites, they can be hindered by cloudy weather conditions.
Since the early 2010s, the military has been pursuing Project 425 to acquire military reconnaissance satellites capable of collecting all-weather image information on the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding areas. The name “425” is derived from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR·Sa) and Electro-Optical (EO·Io) pronunciation.
The second satellite of Project 425 is currently undergoing development testing in a ground-based space environment simulation facility. The testing will conclude in February, followed by its move to the launch site in March. It is set to be launched in early April after a month-long launch preparation process.
As for the third satellite, it has completed satellite assembly and commenced development testing, which is expected to be completed in September, with a planned launch in November.
The development of the second and third satellites of Project 425 was led by the Agency for Defense Development, with the participation of domestic aerospace companies such as Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Hanwha Systems as prototype manufacturers and cooperative entities.
DAPA emphasized that “the domestically developed ultra-high-resolution SAR satellite holds significant importance in securing cutting-edge space technology.” It further predicted that “the technology attained during the development of SAR satellites will contribute to strengthening domestic space development technology and the space industry’s advancement.”
By. Jae Hyung Cho