The South Korean government plans to spend 1.6 trillion won ($1.37 billion) by 2030 on developing state-of-the-art spy satellite and related rocket technology in a bid to beef up its surveillance network as North Korea continues to work on nuclear and missile development.
The move comes after guidelines agreed by South Korea and its security ally the United States that had restricted Seoul’s ballistic missile development for decades were abolished in May.
South Korea, in close coordination with the United States, detected preparations that had been made in North Korea ahead of a military parade in Pyongyang early Thursday.
While it is already capable of eavesdropping on communications, South Korea continues to depend on the United States for intelligence gathering via spy satellite. The country is aiming to be able to conduct constant surveillance of its northern neighbor using its own microsatellites.
According to an investment plan announced by the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration last week, due to the repeal of the guidelines, South Korea can now develop satellite-launching rockets that rely on solid fuel, which is easier to handle than liquid fuel and requires a simpler rocket design.
The South Korean government has now expressed eagerness to establish low-cost, high-precision satellite-launching technology so it can expand earnestly into the space industry.
The government has allocated 18.5 billion won under the investment plan to develop a satellite-mounted advanced sensor for infrared observation of the Earth’s surface. Such a sensor would have at least 50 percent higher resolution than those mounted on existing satellites that are operated overseas, according to local media.