After Pyongyang, South Korea launches its first spy satellite

A SpaceX rocket carrying South Korea’s first spy satellite took off on Friday 1er December from California, according to the live broadcast of the American space company, less than two weeks after the launch by Pyongyang of its own military reconnaissance satellite.

If successfully placed into orbit, the South Korean satellite is expected to monitor the activities of nuclear-armed North Korea. The Seoul satellite was launched by a Falcon-9 rocket, which took off from the Californian Vandenberg base at 10:19 a.m. Friday (7:19 p.m. in France).

The mission also carried other satellites from different customers. SpaceX interrupted its live video shortly after the launch, without showing images of the cargo deployed in space. South Korea plans to launch four additional satellites by the end of 2025 to boost its capabilities.

The satellite must be placed in low Earth orbit, and will be capable of detecting an object of 30 centimeters, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. “Considering its resolution and its Earth observation capacity (…)our satellite technology is among the top five in the world”said a South Korean defense ministry official, cited by Yonhap.

First two North Korean failures

To monitor Pyongyang’s activities, “So far, South Korea has relied heavily on US reconnaissance satellites”explained to Agence France-Presse Choi Gi-il, professor at Sangji University.

Although the country has “already successful in launching a military communications satellite, it took much longer for a reconnaissance satellite, due to higher technological challenges”, he added. After North Korea’s successful launch of a spy satellite, “the government of South Korea [devait] he too demonstrates that he can do it”.

Since the launch of North Korea’s Malligyong-1 satellite last week, Pyongyang has claimed to have been able to observe major sites in the United States and South Korea. However, no images have been made public.

It was North Korea’s third attempt to put such a military observation satellite into orbit, following two failures in May and August. Seoul claimed that Russia had technically helped North Korea with the operation. Westerners, Japan and South Korea denounced this launch, as did UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

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The World with AFP

source site-29