South Korea Reached Major Space Milestones in 2022

The maiden launch of South Korea’s Nuri booster. (Credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute)

On June 21, South Korea’s domestically manufactured Nuri rocket roared off the pad at the Naro Space Center and placed satellites into orbit for the first time. Six months later, South Korea’s first lunar probe entered orbit around the moon, putting an exclamation point on a breakthrough year for the emerging Asian space power.

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Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Following the Success of the Inaugural flight, Arianespace to Start Operations of Vega C with Seven Launchers Already Sold

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Following the success of its inaugural flight, Vega C will now begin its operational phase, under the responsibility of Arianespace, with a target of at least four launches per year and a fast-growing backlog that already includes 7 launches and 10 auxiliary payloads.
  • Vega C is an upgrade to the Vega launcher and can better answer institutional and commercial customers’ needs. Thanks to its increased capabilities, Vega C will serve the burgeoning Earth observation market as well as long-term institutional and commercial needs.
  • The first commercial launch of Vega C is scheduled in November 2022. The flight, designated VV22, will deliver Pléiades Neo 5 and 6, a pair of satellites wholly funded, manufactured and operated by Airbus.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Wednesday, July 13 at 10:13 am local time in Kourou, French Guiana, the first Vega C, the new European launcher designed and manufactured by AVIO, was successfully launched under the supervision of ESA from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).

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South Korea Launches First Domestically Produced Rocket

Nuri rocket lifts off from the Naro Space Center on June 21, 2022. (Credit: KARI)

South Korea successfully launched a fully domestically produced Nuri rocket for the first time on Tuesday, orbiting multiple satellites in a major breakthrough for the Asian nation’s space program.

The three-stage rocket lifted off at 4 p.m. local time carrying a 1.3 metric ton dummy satellite, a smaller 162.5 kg satellite whose purpose was to verify Nuri’s performance, and four research CubeSats developed by universities. The verification satellite confirmed it had entered orbit when it made contact with a communications station in Antarctica.

“The sky of the Korean universe is now wide open. Our science and technology has made great strides,” said Lee Jong-ho, minister of Science and Information Communications Technology (ICT).

The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which is South Korea’s space agency, designed the domestically produced rocket to place 1.5 metric tons into low Earth orbit.

Nuri failed during its maiden flight last October due to the premature shut down of its third-stage engine. An investigation found that a helium tank broke loose due to a design flaw, causing a leak that shut down the engine.

It was the second successful satellite launch from South Korea. In 2013, a Naro-1 rocket launched a small satellite after two earlier failures. Naro-1 used a Russian first stage and a South Korean second stage.

Spire Global to Launch Five Satellites on SpaceX Transporter-5 Mission

Falcon 9 Transporter mission liftoff (Credit: SpaceX)

Launch will include three satellites and hosted payloads for Space Services, the company’s Space-as-a-Service (SPaaS) business

VIENNA, Va., May 18, 2022 (Spire Global PR) — Spire Global, Inc.(NYSE: SPIR) (“Spire” or “the Company”), a leading global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, today announced that it will launch five satellites on the upcoming SpaceX Transporter-5 Mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch will take place this month.

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South Korea Delays Nuri Launch Vehicle’s Second Flight by 1 Month

The maiden launch of South Korea’s Nuri booster. (Credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute)

South Korea has postponed the second flight of its Nuri (KSLV-II) booster by a month to mid-June to allow engineers to correct flaws that caused the rocket to fail on its maiden flight in October.

Nuri’s second flight is schedule for June 15, with the launch window extending until June 23, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said in a press release. The original launch date was May 19.

Nuri failed on its maiden flight when the rocket’s third shut down prematurely due to a leak in the oxidizer tank. A dummy payload was released, but it was not able to enter orbit due to the early engine shutdown. KARI has said that the first two stages performed as expected.

Nuri is South Korea’s first domestically produced launch vehicle. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 1,500 kg into low Earth orbit.

Thales Alenia Space to Provide State-of-the-Art Digital Processor for Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-3 Communications Satellite

GEO-KOMPSAT-3 satellite (Credit: ETRI)

MADRID, January 31, 2022 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), announced today that it has signed a contract with the South Korean aerospace manufacturer and defense company, LIG Nex1 Co., Ltd., to provide a state-of-the-art Digital Processor for the GEO-KOMPSAT-3 communications satellite.

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South Korea’s Nuri Booster Failed Due to Design Flaw

Nuri rocket on the launch pad at the Naro Space Center. (Credit: KARI)

An investigation has found that a design flaw in the third stage doomed the maiden launch of South Korea’s Nuri (KSLV-II) launcher on Oct. 21, according to a press release from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

The investigation found that the third stage engine shut down prematurely due to a leak in the third stage oxidizer tank. The leak was caused when a helium tank broke loose due to a design flaw, the statement said.

A dummy payload was released, but it was not able to enter orbit due to the premature engine shutdown. KARI has said that the first two stages performed as expected.

KARI had previously announced plans to launch the second Nuri rocket on May 19. KARI has not announced whether that flight will be delayed due to the need to fix the design flaw with the third stage helium tank.

Nuri is South Korea’s first domestically produced launch vehicle. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 1,500 kg into low Earth orbit.

Roscosmos Looks Back at Successful Launch Year

Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 27, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — For the third year in a row, Roscosmos ensured trouble-free launches of spacecraft from the Baikonur, Plesetsk and Vostochny cosmodromes. Russia has achieved the best indicators of accident-free launches in 5 years (about 97 percent) among the leading space powers (Russia, USA, China).

As of the end of 2021, 25 launches of space rockets were carried out, including 14 launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome, 5 launches from Vostochny, 5 from Plesetsk and 1 from the Guiana Space Center.

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South Korean Satellite Launch Fails as Third Stage Falters

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The maiden flight of South Korea’s first domestically produced satellite launch vehicle failed on Thursday due to the premature shutdown of the rocket’s third stage, the nation’s space agency said.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the Nuri’s rocket’s first and second stages performed nominally after liftoff from the Naro Space Center at 5 p.m. local time. The failure of the booster’s third stage meant it was unable to place a dummy payload into low Earth orbit. Engineers are analyzing data from the flight to determine what caused the premature shutdown.

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South Korea to Boost Military and Civil Space Spending, Transfer Satellite and Launch Vehicle Technology to Private Sector

Test model of the Nuri (KSLV-II) booster. (Credit: Ministry of Science and ICT)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

South Korea plans to invest more than $14.25 billion over the next decade to improve its military and civil space capabilities. The Republic of Korea will transfer satellite and launch vehicle technology to the private sector to boost the nation’s domestic capabilities and improve its international competitiveness. The nation is also deepening defense and civil space cooperation with the United States.

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South Korea Plans Maiden Flight of Nuri Launch Vehicle in October

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

South Korea has set an October date for the maiden flight of the nation’s first fully domestically developed satellite launch vehicle, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) announced. Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Hyesuk Lim approved KARI’s plan to conduct flight tests of the new Nuri booster from the Naro Space Center on Oct. 21 and May 19, 2022.

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U.S., South Korea to Deepen Space Cooperation Through Artemis Accords, Satellite Navigation System

The United States will provide support for development of the satellite-based Korean Positioning System (KPS), and South Korea will sign the Artemis Accords that will guide human exploration of the moon, the White House said last week.

The announcement followed a summit in Washington between U.S. President Joe Biden and Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon Jae-in. A White House fact sheet that described cooperative activities included the following two items:

  • Expand cooperation on space exploration facilitated by the Republic of Korea’s decision to sign the Artemis Accords, joining nine other nations focused on returning to the moon by 2024 and ultimately expand and deepen space exploration.
  • Support for the ROK’s development of its own satellite navigation system, the Korean Positioning System, and enhance its compatibility and interoperability with the Global Positioning System.

The Artemis Accords are a set of principals laying out how the United States and other signatories will go about exploring the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Signatories include Australia, , Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom. Brazil signed a statement of intent to sign the Artemis Accords in December.

ROK’s space agency, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), described the navigation system as follows:

The KPS Development Plan (draft) is a regional GPS center on the Korean peninsula using three geostationary navigation satellites, four oblique navigation satellites, and terrestrial systems. The goal is to prove the ultra-precision location data service in meter, sub-meter, and centimeter resolutions. The implementation of KPS can guarantee citizens’ safety by operating the national network stably without depending on foreign systems. It is also expected to accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as self-driving automobiles as well as the drone industry by acquiring accurate location information.

Fun with Figures: The Rise and Fall of the Commercial Proton Booster

Proton on launch pad (Credit: ILS)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Russia recently marked the 25th anniversary of the entry of the Proton rocket into the international commercial marketplace. On April 8, 1996, a Proton-K booster with a DM3 upper stage launched the Astra 1F geosynchronous communications satellite built by U.S.-based Hughes for Luxembourg’s SES from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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