Nara Space has achieved a significant milestone by successfully launching the Observer-1A, a self-developed commercial cube satellite. This makes Nara Space the first Korean company to accomplish such a feat, signaling a new era for the country’s private space industry.
The Observer-1A’s beacon transmission and bidirectional communication were completed within approximately one hour and twenty minutes after being ejected from SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The satellite was carried on the launch vehicle, which took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Out of the 113 satellites released into orbit by Falcon 9, the Observer-1A made the earliest data transmission, according to Nara Space. The cube satellite will now undergo a month-long testing period to stabilize its position in orbit and ensure its operational systems are functioning properly before capturing videos of the Earth.
Weighing 24 kilograms and with dimensions of 40 cm in height, 20 cm in width, and 20 cm in depth, the Observer-1A is equivalent to 16U in size, roughly the size of a microwave. It orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, passing over Korea two to four times per day. Equipped with an optical camera, the satellite is capable of identifying objects with a width of 1.5 meters or longer from an altitude of 525 kilometers. By utilizing Nara Space’s artificial intelligence technology, the satellite can enhance the resolution of its images to identify objects as small as 0.5 meters, enabling it to detect small vehicles on roads.
Nara Space’s achievement is notable because previous Korean-made cube satellites were developed using foreign satellite platforms and could not produce images with sufficient resolution for commercial applications. The Observer-1A, however, was completely developed by Nara Space, with over 60 percent of its parts being made by the Korean startup.
Looking ahead, Nara Space plans to launch the Observer-1B, the twin satellite of Observer-1A, in the first half of next year. The company also aims to launch BusanSat, a nanosatellite co-developed with the city of Busan, designed to measure fine dust in the sea atmosphere using a polarimetric camera. Nara Space envisions operating over 100 satellites within the next five years, solidifying its position in the cube satellite sector.
Nara Space’s successful launch of the Observer-1A represents a significant milestone for Korea’s private space industry, showcasing their capabilities in satellite development and positioning the country as a key player in the global space sector.