Satellite Launch Gets South Korea Closer to Eyes in the Sky on Pyongyang

The Nuri rocket's launch demonstrates South Korea's ability to harness technology in order to create its own space surveillance system.

Satellite Launch Gets South Korea Closer to Eyes in the Sky on Pyongyang

SEOUL June, 21 (Wall Street Journal -WSJ):  South Korea on Tuesday joined an elite group of countries by placing a large satellite into orbit, harnessing technology. It helps to monitor and track North Korean military activity. It launched a three-stage liquid-fuel rocket in October that reached its intended target altitude of around 435 miles. However, the third-stage engine of the spacecraft burned out earlier than anticipated, preventing the mission from successfully launching a fake satellite into orbit. Due to an issue with an oxidizer tank sensor, the test scheduled for Tuesday had been postponed for many days.

Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle II or Nuri is known as the 200-metric-ton rocket, meaning “world” in Korea. The rocket took off at 4 p.m. local time from the country’s space center in Goheung, on the south coast. In addition to four research cube satellites, it also carried a rocket performance verification satellite and a 1.3-ton dummy satellite. It ascended to a comparable altitude as the test in October. South Korea's science minister, Lee Jong-ho, hailed the successful launch of a satellite as a watershed moment for the nation's aspirations in space and pledged to make additional strides. At a post-launch briefing, Mr. Lee stated, "With more launches, we'll aim to improve the technical reliability and stability of the Nuri rocket."

South Korea joins the list of nations with independently constructed rockets capable of launching satellites weighing more than a tonne into orbit. Russia, China, and the U.S. are among the participants. The launch occurs as Seoul and Washington step up their deterrent strategy in response to Pyongyang's continuing nuclear tests. This year, North Korea tested over a dozen missiles, that was inclusive of an intercontinental ballistic missile that probably reached the U.S. mainland.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to expand joint military drills with Washington during a meeting in Seoul with President Biden last month. In response to North Korea's threats, he also promised to deploy key military assets from the United States to South Korea. The October launch of the Nuri rocket was deemed a "certain failure" by North Korean official media, which added that Seoul still needs to demonstrate its launch capability. Mr. Yoon's proposal to strengthen the South's defense against North Korean nuclear and missile threats has also drawn criticism from Pyongyang, which claims that such measures are ineffective in the face of Pyongyang's "mighty force and absolute power."

Pyongyang tested elements of a reconnaissance satellite that was developing this year, with leader Kim Jong Un promising more tests in the future. Military reconnaissance satellites are a key focus of Mr. Kim's five-year weapons strategy. North Korea's satellite launches have been condemned by the United States and South Korea as a veiled test run for its long-range ballistic missile technology. South Korea intends to launch several military satellites in the coming years. Moreover, the South Korean military oversaw the successful launch of its first solid-fuel space rocket in March, as part of its spy satellite plans.

Based on Tuesday’s launch, South Korea has the potential to deploy satellites for both military and commercial goals to gather data on its neighbors. It strives to monitor and track North Korea's missile and nuclear sites without relying on American spy satellites. This is possible due to the access to a local space monitoring system. Since 2010, South Korea has invested almost $1.8 billion in the construction of the Nuri rocket as part of its more than ten-year quest to obtain this capability. So, this space program shall support South Korea's efforts to build a 6G mobile network.



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