Korea plans to develop a space vehicle on its own and launch it during the first half of 2020, and send up a lunar orbiter and a lunar lander for itself before the end of the same year. In the longer term, it is planning to explore Mars, asteroids, and deep space to join the ranks of space industry powerhouses.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning held the sixth National Space Committee meeting on November 26 and finalized its three major plans for space development – the Long-term Plan for Space Development, the Space Technology Industrialization Strategy, and the Modified KSLV Development Plan.
KSLVs Scheduled to Explore Moon
At the meeting, the government decided to hasten the development of the Korean Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV) by 15 months to complete it by June 2020. The purpose of the development of the KSLV, which stared in March 2010, is to put a 1.5 ton application satellite into low earth orbit at an altitude of 600 to 800 km. According to the new plan, the government is going to launch a test vehicle in December 2017, one year ahead of schedule, and then launch completed three-stage vehicles in December 2019 and June 2020. The government will also send up the lunar orbiter and lunar lander on the vehicles before the end of 2020, if the KSLV development turns out to be successful. All of the processes are to fulfill President Park Geun-hye’s promise to explore the moon on or before 2020.
“It has been found through the KSLV Development Center’s repeated research that there is no logical problem at all in launching the space launch vehicles equipped with the orbiter and landing module in the second half of 2020,” said Mon Hae-joo, head of the Space & Nuclear Policy Bureau of the Ministry, at the briefing. Director of the KSLV Development Center Park Tae-hak echoed him by saying, “In general, it takes about three months to prepare the launch, and thus we can repeat it once in the period of six months.” The government is planning to set up a new space monitoring system as well in order to cope with potential dangers such as falling space objects, whose frequency is on the rise these days.
Development of Advanced Satellites Accelerated
The government will also accelerate the development of satellites, too. For example, it is going to continue working on high-precision multipurpose observation satellites to meet the national strategic demand, while making greater efforts to come up with those equipped with 0.5 m-resolution optical cameras for public security and territory and resources management, and with high-performance radar capable of all-weather observations.
Additionally, it kicks off the development of mid-sized satellites such as middle earth orbit and geostationary orbit satellites to penetrate the global satellite manufacturing market. Compared to low-orbit ones, these have wider applications in meteorological observations, ocean and environmental monitoring, navigation system construction, and satellite communication and broadcasting services.
Another goal is to bring out a satellite information utilization system. It is slated to be used in real-time weather information analysis and prediction, monitoring of marine pollution, crop forecasting, next-generation satellite-based augmentation systems, and maritime logistics management.
Local Space Industry Expected to Triple in Size by 2017
The KSLV development and lunar exploration projects are expected to lead the revitalization of the local space industry down the road.
The government announced that it would triple the size of the local space industry by 2017 in the framework of the Space Technology Industrialization Strategy. The ratio of aerospace companies participating in it to the total will increase from 41% to 81%, while the number of venture firms in the industry will grow from six to at least 50. Moreover, it is going to help increase aerospace companies’ combined sales from 886.6 billion won (US$836 million) to approximately 2.8 trillion won (US$2.6 billion) while increasing the number of jobs in the sector from 856 to 4,500.
The ministry will enhance industrial infrastructure, too. It is planning to set up a space education center to train 4,800 or more satellite and space launch vehicle experts by 2020.