Asia Minute: South Korea extending its reach into space
South Korea aspires to join the small group of countries that can launch satellites for commercial clients. The country took a step forward this week in building that new business.
Right now, there are half a dozen that can launch satellites of one ton or more.
All but two have Pacific coasts.
There’s Russia, China, Japan, and the United States — along with India in South Asia and France — which launches from French Guiana in South America.
This week’s South Korean launch was not a total success.
On Thursday, the country sent a satellite launch vehicle into a low-earth orbit — and deployed a payload the size and weight of a satellite.
The payload failed to reach orbit.
One mark of progress: this rocket was developed in South Korea — previous South Korean launches have used rockets developed in Russia.
President Moon Jae-in addressed the nation about the launch — calling it excellent “for a first try.”
The project is aimed at growing a commercial sector — but there’s also a strong security aspect.
That was highlighted by another event this week: North Korea’s test-firing of a ballistic missile.
South Korea has already put nearly $2 billion into its rocket launch program over the past decade — the next test launch will come in May.
President Moon says the government is pursuing its goal of sending an exploratory robotic mission to the moon by 2030.