South and North Korea are racing to launch their first domestically-developed military spy satellites. South Korea’s satellite is set to be launched on November 30th, backed by the United States and carried by SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The launch is part of South Korea’s “425 Project,” which aims to develop a total of five high-resolution military satellites by 2025 to enhance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. These satellites will be a crucial part of South Korea’s three-axis defense system, known as the “Kill Chain.”
North Korea also has plans to launch a “large number of reconnaissance satellites” by 2025. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the development of these satellites to monitor and identify military actions by the US and its allies. North Korea has faced failures in its previous satellite launches but remains determined to proceed.
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik pointed out that North Korea may attempt another satellite launch in late November. It is suspected that the delay in North Korea’s launch is due to the need for improvements in the carrier rocket’s third-stage engine, possibly with technological guidance from Russia. The competition between South and North Korea in launching reconnaissance satellites is seen as a technology race between the United States and Russia.
Any launch by North Korea that involves ballistic missile technology is a breach of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. While the timing of the satellite launches will be important politically, South Korea’s successful launch and North Korea’s setbacks could cause significant damage to Pyongyang’s reputation.
In summary, South and North Korea are competing to launch military spy satellites as part of their efforts to enhance their military capabilities. South Korea aims to bolster its defense system, with support from the United States, while North Korea seeks to collect intelligence on its adversaries, with assistance from Russia. The outcomes of these launches will have significant political implications for both countries.