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Korea eyes expansion of commercial space industry

The government will soon set up measures to help commercialize its space technology while also working to further develop its commercial space sector that will include the early development of a shuttle to the moon, the science ministry said Thursday.

The move comes as there are only 61 private companies or research institutes developing space technologies in the country while 44.2 percent of them have annual sales of less than 1 billion won ($909,000), according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

South Korea successfully launched its first space rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, in January, becoming the world’s 13th nation to have launched a space rocket from its own soil.

“The country has so far developed its key space technologies and related industry through government-led space programs, but it has yet to witness any meaningful commercialization of space technologies due to its lack of a serious space industry,” the ministry said in a press release.

To help develop a commercial space industry, the government will set up a special task force that will come up with measures to commercialize the space industry before the end of September, it said.

Such measures will include a transfer of government-possessed technologies to private firms, along with the participation of private companies in the government program that currently seeks to send a space shuttle to the moon before 2019, two years ahead of its original schedule.

An early development of the country’s indigenous spacecraft will help expand its space development program, and thus provide more chance for new private firms to spring up and take part in the program, the ministry noted. (Yonhap News)