Amid growing threats from North Korea, South Korea successfully launched its first indigenous military spy satellite from a US military base in California on December 1 (local time), Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea’s defence ministry on December 2.
It reported that the satellite was launched with the help of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
As South Korea has relied on US commercial and military assets for high-resolution imagery, it has been pushing to establish an independent military satellite network to gather information on North Korea.
Yonhap news agency reported that beginning with an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) satellite, South Korea plans to send four more synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites into space by 2025 to better monitor North Korea.
EO/IR satellites capture detailed images of the Earth’s surface but cannot penetrate dense clouds, while SAR satellites can collect data regardless of weather using remote sensing systems.
The plan is expected to heat up a space arms race between the two Koreas as North Korea sent its first spy satellite in orbit on November 21 following two failed attempts earlier this year and vowed to launch more in a short span of time.
Yonhap news agency reported that the military officials expressed hope that the reconnaissance satellites will serve as an “eye” for South Korea’s Kill Chain preemptive strike system as they will enable prompt detection or early warning signs of a potential North Korean nuclear or missile attack.
It reported that the Kill Chain system is a pillar of South Korea’s three-pronged deterrence system that also includes the Korea Air and Missile Defence system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation, an operational plan to incapacitate North Korean leadership in the event of a major conflict.
(with inputs from ANI)