Double-digit increase in South Korea’s space budget

Double-digit increase in South Korea’s space budget

South Korea’s KPLO lunar orbiter, shown
being lifted off the ground by its mounting ring,
is scheduled to launch in August on a SpaceX
Falcon 9 Rocket. Credit: KARI

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is increasing its space spending this year by 19% from 2021 levels as it seeks to bounce back from October’s failed attempt to prove it can deploy a satellite without Russian rocket hardware.

The $619 million that South Korea will invest in national space programs in 2022 is 15% more than the amount originally proposed by the government.

The double-digit gap between the final budget and what was initially pursued is rare, indicating the growth opportunity the South Korean government sees for its domestic space industry, according to An Hyoung-joon, a researcher at the Policy Institute. Science and Technology, a state funded think tank based in Sejong.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology announced the country’s 2022 space budget in late February, calling it “the first time in the history of the country’s space development that projects related to rockets, satellites and exploration space are included in an annual to-do list. at the same time.”

“It’s an important year. [for South Korea] because there are a number of long-awaited space development missions that are scheduled to take place,” Deputy Science Minister Yong Hong-taek said, citing the second launch of South Korea’s fully domestic KSLV-2 rocket, in addition to launches foreigners from two South Korean rockets. built satellites and the country’s first lunar orbiter.

Nearly 29 percent of the budget, $175.8 million, will be used for launch vehicle development. The KSLV-2, the biggest successor to the two-stage KSLV-1 rocket that relied on a Russian RD-191 engine to lift off, is scheduled to make its second flight in June. On its October debut, the three-stage KSLV-2 reached its intended altitude, but was unable to place its dummy payload into orbit when its liquid-fuel upper stage shut down early.

KSLV-2 takes off from the launch pad at Naro Space Center in Goheung, October 21, 2021. Credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute

The budget also funds work on a high-performance liquid fuel engine for the eventual successor to the KSLV-2 and an effort to help develop second-stage engines for commercial small satellite launchers that would use the KRE-075 first-stage engine. of the KSLV-2.

South Korea’s Defense Development Agency is working on solid-fuel rockets for future military surveillance satellite launches under an initiative launched last year by the US, lifting decades-old restrictions on South Korean missile development.

Most of the 2022 space budget, or $276.4 million, is earmarked for satellite projects, including the CAS500-2 and KOMPSAT-6 Earth observation satellites, which will launch on separate Russian Soyuz rockets this year. . These releases, however, are uncertain because of international sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine.

South Korea’s satellite budget will also be used to fund the development of KOMPSAT-7, design the architecture of at least six remote sensing or communication satellites, and open a new satellite operations center.

About $70 million is budgeted for work on the Korean Positioning System, a constellation of eight navigation satellites that South Korea plans to deploy between 2027 and 2034. Satellite production is expected to begin in 2024 after completing work this year. in core navigation technology.

South Korea’s space budget for 2022 sets aside $25 million for exploration, including the launch of the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO). NASA has provided a high-resolution camera dubbed the ShadowCam that will be used to search the permanently shadowed regions near the moon’s poles for water. KPLO is scheduled to launch in August aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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