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Korean Outer Space Exploration and Technologies

Updated on May 23, 2014

The 21st Century Space Race is Speeding Up

Do South Koreans want to juggle tomoatoes in outer space like the ISS astronaut on Expedition 35?
Do South Koreans want to juggle tomoatoes in outer space like the ISS astronaut on Expedition 35? | Source

Asian Countries Are "Going Up"

After two unsuccessful attempts at launching a satellite into outer space in early 2013, South Korea succeeded in their third attempt on February 4 of that year. This occurred at NARO Space Center, off the southern coast of this Asian nation. This bodes well for future partnership aspirations with the USA in commercial space ventures and research in the near future.

Japan* (first satellite launch in 1970) is already a partner with NASA and its Commercial Crew as well as in US government sponsored projects. South Korea would doubtless like to be in the same position and is the 11th country to launch a satellite with its own manufactured rocket (actually, one fro Russia; SK plans to launch their own around 2018).

North Korea, however, was the 10th nation to do accomplish the task. At the same time, NASA has reported that the NK satelitte is out of control and falling out of space, with the North Koreans deny.

*Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata served on the International Space Station (ISS) in the past during STS-119 and worked as a flight engineer for Expeditions 18, 19 and 20. He is scheduled to serve on Expedition 38 as flight engineer and become Japan's first station commander during Expedition 39 at the beginning of 2014.

Working On the International Space Station

Dr. So-yeon Yi on launch day, April 8, 2008.
Dr. So-yeon Yi on launch day, April 8, 2008. | Source
Yi So-yeon, the first Korean on the ISS. The South Korean Space Agency KARI developed a special Kimchi for her to eat.
Yi So-yeon, the first Korean on the ISS. The South Korean Space Agency KARI developed a special Kimchi for her to eat. | Source

First Korean in Space

A South Korean woman with a PhD in biosystems engineering was chosen as the backup cosmonaut in the April 8 -19, 2008 first Korean In Space launch to the ISS (International Space Station), a mission that includes a number of technological and scientific experiments in space. These experiments reportedly will have to do with aspects of biosystems and bioengineering.

However, because the Korean cosmonaut originally chosen for the mission, a male PhD candidate, broke protocol several times, the Korean lady cosmonaut gained the berth to the ISS. Cosmonaut Ko-San obtained a pilot's training manual that he was not to have accessed. In addition, he took it outside of the training campus, against the rules of the Russian Space Agency. Further, he took other materials that described Russian technologies in detail off campus, again violating important protocols. Fearing mistakes by Ko-San on board the Russian shuttle and the ISS, he was demoted to backup cosmonaut.

Yi So-yeon, Ko-San's understudy is a native of Gwangju in South Korea, but has also trained under the auspices of the Russian Space Agency. She already possesses a PhD and work experience with biosystems, a vital part of the South Korean Space Program. She will blast off with the rest of the shuttle crew from the Kazakhstan facility known as Baikonur Space Center. The crew will pilot a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS.

The doctor is the senior researcher at the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and an adjunct professor at the Korea Advances Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Her masters degree is in mechanical engineering and her PhD dissertation was on how to develop micro-machines that separate DNA molecules by size. She wants to inspire young people all over the world to work in the sciences and to become involved in space exploration. She wants to inspire others to know that outer space is not a place where only Russians and Americans go.

South Korean Space Technologies Race

South Koreans launched their first satellite, the KITSAT 1, in 1992. Thereafter they launched 11 additional satellites. These were the KOMPSATs, the STSATs, and Korea Satellites. They created a sounding rocket KSR-3 with a liquid rocket engine in 2002, and are making progress in space technology, although still behind the US, Russia, and even China. KOMPSAT 2 was launched in 2006 to transmit high-quality images back to earth and has been successful.

The Korean Space Agency stated that a Korea Space Center, a specialized outpost for extensive space exploration, is to be completed in Goheung, Jeollanam-do, Korea, in September 2008. In addition, the administrators of the agency reveal that they intend to launch the Korean Space Launch Vehicle [KPLV] from the Korea Space Center in December 2008. Still behind China, which aims for a Lunar landing in 2010, South Korea projects its own Lunar journey to end in success in 2025, fifteen years later. This is all occurring amid beginning inquiries since the late 1990s into International Law about ownership rights to the Moon.

Aerospace technologies in Korea did not take hold and begin to develop until the 1990s, well behind USA, Russia, and other nations by nearly 4 decades. In 2008, however, over 1,700 Korean workers are employed in the Korean industrial space sector. This work includes that related to satellites, satellite applications, and launch vehicles. Other related work includes that concerned with biosystems and the prolonged survival of humans, plant foods, and animals in space. Several aerospace development projects in the 21st century include Korea's COMS, KOMPSAT, STSAT, and KSLV-I, which will develop advanced space image and weather tracking technologies.


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