South Korea’s military is set to launch its first domestically-built reconnaissance satellite on November 30th. The satellite, carried by a Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX, will be launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This launch is part of a project aimed at placing a total of five satellites into space by the end of 2025.
The development of these military satellites is a crucial part of South Korea’s three-axis defense system. By improving monitoring and tracking capabilities, the satellites will enhance the nation’s ability to detect and respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The South Korean military has allocated 1.2 trillion won ($910 million) for the “425 project,” which will see the launch of four synthetic aperture radar satellites and one featuring an electro-optical infrared telescope into low Earth orbit.
The involvement of state agencies and private companies, such as the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the Agency for Defense Development, and Hanwha Systems, in coordination with international scientists, highlights the collaborative nature of this project.
Once operational, the reconnaissance satellites are expected to significantly enhance South Korea’s three-axis deterrence system, which includes preemptive strikes through the Kill Chain, missile interception with the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) campaign, and elimination of North Korea’s command-and-control.
Meanwhile, North Korea is also preparing to launch its own spy satellite, after two previous failed attempts. South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik believes that Russia may be providing support to North Korea’s satellite program, which could explain the delayed launch timeline. Shin stated that it is unlikely for North Korea to launch within the next two weeks but noted the possibility of a launch at the end of this month.
The development of a reconnaissance satellite is one of the high-tech weapons that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has pledged to develop, alongside a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile and a nuclear-powered submarine.