South Korea will launch its first radar-equipped Earth observation satellite capable of providing images in any type of weather condition, in an important step in developing its commercial space program.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced Thursday that the satellite KOMPSAT-5 is scheduled for lift off on Aug. 22 from a Yasny launch base in Russia.
KOMPSAT-5 is the country’s first SAR or Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite. The country’s three previous Earth observation satellites use high resolution cameras, but the SAR satellite uses radar to monitor the Earth.
The KOMPSAT-5, the country’s first Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite, is stationed at Korea Aerospace Research Institute in Daejeon. (Yonhap News)
The ministry said the SAR satellite would eliminate limitations of traditional satellites, such as monitoring flooding under heavy clouds.
The KOMPSAT-5 will operate at an altitude of 550 km in a dawn-dusk orbit, a type of orbit set up so that the area of Earth directly below the satellite is always just in daylight ― either at dusk or dawn. It will conduct all-weather and all-day observations of the Earth during its five-year mission.
The satellite will fulfill the country’s demands for various SAR images and developing infrastructure toward the commercial space market, according to satellite developer Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
Korea made major strides earlier this year by successfully launching its first locally assembled space rocket KSLV-1 from its own soil for the first time.
It now aims to develop an indigenous 10-ton thrust liquid-fueled rocket engine by 2016, a 75-ton thrust engine by 2018, and a 300-ton thrust engine that can carry a 1.5-ton satellite into outer space by 2020.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)