With the successful launch of Cheollian Satellite 2A, South Korea has stepped up to a next level of technology independence for geostationary satellite development. Geostationary satellites refer to the satellites that travel at the same speed as the Earth's rotation in a certain orbit for continuous observation of a spot. As these require high-level technology, only seven countries in the world have the relevant technology.
According to the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Meteorological Administration, Cheollian Satellite 2A was successfully launched at 5:37 a.m. on Dec. 5 in Guiana, South America. Cheollian 2A was normally separated from the Ariane-5 launch vehicle at altitude of about 2,340km after about 34 minutes of launch, and about 5 minutes later, it succeeded in making the first communication with Dongara earth station in Australia at 6:16 a.m.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) confirmed that the state of the body system of Cheollian Satellite 2A was satisfactorily intact through communication with the earth station and also confirmed that it has successfully landed on the first elliptical orbit.
For the next two weeks, Cheollian Satellite 2A will try to approach its geostationary orbit at a target altitude of 36,000km from the transition orbit by separating from its own thrusters five times. Once it settles in the stationary orbit, it will go through tests in the orbit for about 6 months and will start providing a full-scale weather service starting in next July.
Cheollian Satellite 2A uses the world's best meteorological payload system to deliver high-resolution color images with a resolution four times higher than the previous version of satellite every 10 minutes. High-resolution color images can be used to distinguish clouds from forest smoke and yellow dust from volcanic ash, which will improve the accuracy of meteorological analysis, allowing 2-hour early detection of localized heavy rains that were not easy to forecast before.
Also, it is expected that the accuracy of tracing the movement path of the typhoon will be improved as tracking of the center of the typhoon is now available. Kim Ji-young, a principal researcher at the National Meteorological Satellite Center, said, "With the reduction in the observation period from 15 minutes to two minutes, we expect to be able to promptly respond to the rapidly developing local precipitation.”
Korean research teams, including KARI, have been independently developing the body and the system of Cheollian Satellite 2A since 2011. The government subsidies of a total of 325.2 billion won was invested for the development of Cheollian Satellite 2A.
Cheollian Satellite 2A has been launched successfully, but Korean researchers are left with homework, such as securing large-scale launch vehicle technology that allows launch of geostationary satellites such as Cheollian Satellite 2A. KARI plans to use Nuriho, which is planned to be launched in 2021, as a platform to develop the launch vehicle technology.