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S. Korea to Build 'Korean Positioning System' by Putting Up Seven GPS Satellites
GPS Independence
S. Korea to Build 'Korean Positioning System' by Putting Up Seven GPS Satellites
  • By Michael Herh
  • January 30, 2018, 23:15
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The South Korean Positioning System (KPS) will be launched in 2034.
The South Korean Positioning System (KPS) will be launched in 2034.


Korean technology and capital will build its own global positioning system (GPS) which Korea has used by fully depending on advanced countries such as the United States. The Ministry of Science and ICT is planning to finalize the third space development promotion plan including the construction of the ‘Korean Positioning System’ (KPS) at a Space Committee meeting scheduled to be held on February 5.

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Korean Positioning System (KPS) will be launched in 2034 after the development of a ground test site three years from now in 2021, the development of core satellite navigation technology in 2022 and the development of satellite navigation mounting development in 2024. A total of seven navigation satellites including three geostationary ones will be launched and operated for the construction of the KPS. The ministry is planning to provide overseas navigation satellites’ complementing and unique signals to a 1,000 km radius of Seoul. It is estimated that it will cost about 2.5 trillion won to build seven KPS satellites.

According to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and industry source, at least four satellites must be in the orbit to use GPS services. In addition, the GPS needs at least 24 satellites to cover the entire globe. Now that Korea needs a local positioning system with a radius of 1,000 km of Seoul, only seven satellites are required according to the research institute.

Korea has not have any GPS satellites, so the nation has had to entirely rely on GPS satellites of countries with advanced space technology such as the US. However, in the event of a crisis such as a war on the Korean Peninsula, signals can be blocked by countries with GPSs such as the US and Russia to preclude their enemy forces from using them. So the project was launched to address such a possibility.

"As the GPS becomes a necessity in everyday life, broken signals for any reason can set off a nationwide chaos," said an official for satellite navigation at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

Building the KPS also has the advantage of ramping up the accuracy of the GPS. In 2034, when the KPS consisting of seven satellites will be completed, the error range of the GPS in Korea which is about 10 meters now will be reduced to less than one meter.

This reason is fueling completion to secure GPS satellites among space powers. The United States, which launched its first GPS satellite in 1978, is currently operating 27 GPS satellites and Russia began the operation of the GPS in 1982 and now has 24 units.

China has been developing its own GPS called “BeiDou" since 2000 to compete with satellite navigation systems led by the United States and Russia among others. Japan also has four GPS satellites including the second unit of ultra-high-precision GPS "Michibiki" launched in June last year. The European Union (EU) also has been building a GPS under the name of the "Galileo project" since 2002.

"Advanced nations are trying to secure strong GPS capabilities by sending up satellites to prevent a chaos that can take place while they depend on other nations’ satellites,” the official at the KARI said.