Known as the Arirang-3A, the Korea Multipurpose Satellite-3A was successfully deployed in space and established radio contact with Korea's ground station. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said that the satellite is operating properly, and all of its solar panels have deployed for power.
The satellite was launched at 7:08 a.m. KST from Russia's Yasny launch base, on the Russian rocket Dnepr, the world's largest commercial ballistic missile. The launch vehicle was converted from a Soviet-era intercontinental ballistic missile.
Around an hour after the launch, the 1,100 kg satellite confirmed that the rocket had successfully delivered its payload into orbit. Because the Russian launch pad remains off-limits to public access, real-time observation was not available during the launch.
South Korea plans to make inroads into the global space industry, especially the exclusive and highly competitive field of commercial satellite imagery, by developing its own launch vehicle for testing by 2019. Korean officials hope that the Arirang-3A will boost the country's ability to monitor the earth's surface, and complement the nation's three other multi-purpose science satellites currently operational in space. Recently, private companies put a lot of effort into the making of the Arirang-3A, affording opportunities for Korea to develop further in this area.
The satellite, carrying the most powerful optical telescopes and imaging radar of any Korean satellite yet, will be able to photograph in all-weather conditions providing clear images of any object on the earth's surface larger than 50 centimeters in diameter. According to KARI, temperature-sensitive infra-red sensors on board the Arirang-3A can be especially useful for monitoring forest fires, volcanic activity, and other natural disasters around the world.
Inserted into so-called sun-synchronous orbit 528 kilometers above the Earth's surface, the satellite envelopes the entire planet as the Earth rotates below it, compiling a global picture of the planet through on-board sensors.
The new satellite will enable 24-hour monitoring of the Earth's surface together with the KOMSAT-5, South Korea's first science satellite launched in 2013, circling the earth 15 times a day for the next four years.