S. Korea to launch two more military spy satellites this year

South Korea
Photo credit: Yonhap

South Korea plans to launch two more military spy satellites this year to better monitor North Korea, the state arms procurement agency said Monday, a move that could heat up the inter-Korean space race, Yonhap reports.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said two synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites are scheduled to be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida in April and November, respectively.

Beginning with an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) satellite in December, South Korea plans to place four more SAR satellites into orbit by 2025 to enhance space-based intelligence capabilities amid North Korea's growing missile and nuclear threats.

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.

When operated together, the reconnaissance satellites are expected to enable the prompt detection of early warning signs of a potential North Korean nuclear or missile attack, DAPA said.

South Korea's announcement came days after Pyongyang vowed to launch three more spy satellites this year.

In November, the North put its first spy satellite into orbit following two failed attempts and has claimed it has photographed major South Korea and U.S. military sites.

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