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South Korea’s KAI To Build Three Remote Sensing Satellites By 2025

Satellite image of South Korea; Credits: Wikipedia

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on 31 December 2019 that South Korea’s largest aerospace company, the Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), has announced that it will build three remote sensing satellites with the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) by 2025.

KAI and KARI will jointly develop and build the three remote sensing satellites that will be used for Earth sciences, disaster monitoring and management, and resource management as part of a 180 billion Won (U.S.$156 million) contract financed by the Korean National Research Foundation.

The KAI/KARI remote sensing programme is part of a five-satellite project, with the first two satellites already undergoing development and manufacture. KAI said that with the last three satellites two will be completed in 2023 and the last satellite will be ready by 2025.

One of the three remote sensing satellites will feature an electro-optical camera capable of capturing five metre resolution images across a 120 kilometre swath. This satellite will be used primarily by the South Korean Rural Development Administration and the Korea Forest Service for resource management and environmental monitoring purposes. Due to be launched by 2023, this satellite will cost approximately 117 billion Won (approximately U.S.$100 million).

The second of the three satellites will begin construction in 2021 with the aim of being completed by 2023, and is thought to cost 47 billion Won (approximately U.S.$40.5 million). This satellite will be used for ‘space science’ though the South Korean press are short on exact details. What is known, however, is that this satellite will be launched by the indigenously built Korean Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV) II, while the other two remote sensing satellites could be launched into orbit by either a domestic or international launch provider.

The last of the three remote sensing satellites will feature a C-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capability that will have a 10 metre resolution. This satellite is expected to cost 143 billion Won (approximately U.S.$123.4 million) and will start development in 2022 with the aim of being completed by 2025. The SAR satellite is being designed to be used for environmental monitoring and disaster early warning of droughts, flooding, pollution events such as oil spills, and other phenomenon such as red tide.

The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT has previously stated that the three satellites will contribute to South Korea’s ability to better manage its natural resources and mitigate the impact of climate change. The Ministry also said that by inviting the South Korean private sector to build all three remote sensing satellites it will better prepare them to be competitive in the international satellite manufacturing marketplace.

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