South Korea is planning to launch a “commercial-grade satellite.”
According to the officials of South Korea, the country is planning to conduct its final launch of a “commercial-grade satellite aboard a domestically built rocket” next month. And it added that this is part of its “space development programme.”
They also claim that the “country’s in-house Nuri space launch” vehicle serves no military functions. But some experts assert that, despite tensions with rival North Korea, the development of such rockets will eventually aid the nation in acquiring the capabilities required to manufacture larger missiles and deploy reconnaissance satellites.
South Korea launched its first satellite with the Nuri rocket in June last year. That flight, as described by the South Korean officials, also involved a “performance verification” satellite that was primarily intended to test the rocket’s capabilities, whereas the launch scheduled for next month will be the first to place a commercial-grade satellite into orbit.
On May 24, the rocket is scheduled to launch from the “nation’s space launch facility” on a southern island, according to the Science Ministry. In case of unforeseen weather-related scheduling modifications, the Ministry specified a backup launch date between May 25 and May 31.
Seven additional smaller cube-shaped satellites as well as the main “Next Generation Small Satellite 2” satellite will be launched on the same rocket. The main satellite’s duties include monitoring cosmic rays in the near-Earth orbit and evaluating imaging radar technology, according to the announcement.
The rocket’s initial and second stages have been completely put together, and the eight satellites that will be mounted on top of the third stage are currently undergoing their last environmental tests.
South Korea is the 10th largest economy in the world and is a mass producer of automobiles, smartphones, and semiconductors. But compared to its neighbours, Japan, China, and India, it has a less advanced space development programme. A number of satellites have been launched into orbit by South Korea since the early 1990s; however, each one required the use of foreign rocket technology or launch locations.
There is no evidence that either of the two Earth observation satellites that North Korea launched into orbit in 2012 or 2016 has been operational. Due to the two launches, North Korea has been subject to international penalties since the U.N. considers them to be covert demonstrations of the North’s prohibited long-range missile capabilities.