South Korea is preparing to launch its first locally made spy satellite for better monitoring of neighboring North Korea, which has an expanding nuclear arsenal.
Jeon Ha Gyu, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson told reporters on Monday that the satellite will lift off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on Nov. 30, ending Seoul’s current dependence on U.S. spy satellites to keep watch on Pyongyang.
According to an honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, Lee Choon Geun, American spy satellites offer much higher-resolution imagery but prioritize U.S. objectives, not South Korea’s. He added that Seoul’s overall defense system would gain more muscle once its independent satellites sync with the country’s three-axis military system of preemptive strike, missile defense and retaliatory assets.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take the military reconnaissance satellite into orbit, with four more spy satellites under contract with SpaceX onward 2025, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration said.
In June 2022, South Korea launched its first homegrown rocket, boosting the country’s aerospace goals and demonstrating key technologies for launching spy satellites and building larger missiles.