South Korea and North Korea are racing against each other to successfully launch their first domestically developed military spy satellites. South Korea’s Defence Ministry has scheduled the launch of its reconnaissance satellite for November 30, with the satellite set to be carried by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The launch is part of South Korea’s 425 Project, which aims to develop and deploy its own reconnaissance satellites to monitor North Korea’s strategic targets. The country plans to launch a total of five high-resolution military satellites by 2025 to enhance its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. These spy satellites will serve as the core assets of South Korea’s defence system, particularly in the “kill chain” pre-emptive strike mechanism.
If successful, the launch will showcase South Korea’s technological superiority over North Korea, which has faced failures in its previous satellite launch attempts. However, North Korea is also seeking to develop a large number of reconnaissance satellites for military purposes by 2025, as ordered by leader Kim Jong Un. The country aims to monitor and identify any perceived hostile actions by the United States and its allies.
Defense Minister Shin Won-sik warned that North Korea may attempt another launch in late November. The delay could be attributed to the need for improvements in the carrier rocket’s engine or specific guidance from Russia. South Korea remains cautious and closely monitors the situation.
The competition between North and South Korea highlights the growing importance of space-based intelligence capabilities in the region. Both countries are striving to enhance their military capabilities and protect their national security interests.