South Korea says it has carried out its first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket, in which it called a major step towards acquiring a space surveillance capability amid growing hostility with rival North Korea.
- The South Korean-built solid propellant rocket soared into the sky before a dummy satellite was released into space
- The launch comes six days after North Korea conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile test since 2017
- South Korea’s Ministry of Defense says it plans to launch a spy satellite into orbit
In an apparent attempt to expand its weapons arsenal and increase pressure on the Biden administration amid halted disarmament talks, the launch came six days after North Korea conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile test since 2017.
According to photos released by Seoul’s Ministry of Defense, the South Korean-built rocket with solid propellant took to the air before a dummy satellite was released into space.
A statement from the ministry said Defense Minister Suh Wook and other senior officials had observed the removal.
It said solid fuel rockets reduce launch times, have simpler structures and are cheaper to develop and manufacture than liquid fuel rockets.
The ministry said South Korea would soon launch a spy satellite into orbit aboard a solid-fuel rocket.
South Korea currently has no military reconnaissance satellites of its own and is dependent on US spy satellites to monitor strategic facilities in North Korea.
By 2020, South Korea had obtained U.S. permission to use solid fuel for space launch vehicles, removing a restriction previously imposed by Washington on its main Asian ally out of concern that the use of the technology could lead to larger missiles and a local can cause arms race. .
Last year, the United States lifted other remaining restrictions to allow South Korea to develop missiles with unlimited range.
In 1979, South Korea agreed to the restrictions in exchange for receiving US missile technology.
Wednesday’s launch came amid tensions over North Korea’s launch of an ICBM last Thursday, which violated its self-imposed moratorium on major arms tests and violated several UN Security Council resolutions.
South Korea’s Ministry of Defense concluded earlier this week that North Korea fired a previously tested Hwasong-15 ICBM, rather than a newer, larger, longer-range Hwasong-17 he claims to have tested.
The missile flew farther and farther than any previous North Korean launch, placing the entire continent of the US within its potential target range. It was also North Korea’s launch with the highest profile since its Hwasong-15 test in November 2017.
Launch comes at ‘grave time’
“Coming at a very serious time after North Korea’s lifting of the weapons test moratorium, this successful test launch of the solid fuel space launch vehicle is an important milestone in our army’s efforts to (build) a one-sided space-based surveillance system and defense capability. strengthened, “the South Korean statement said.
North Korea recently said it was testing cameras for a spy satellite. It has launched two Earth observation satellites in recent years, but experts say there is no evidence that they have ever broadcast images.
Lee Choon Geun, an honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, said the development of the solid fuel rocket will also contribute to the improvement of South Korea’s missile technology because ballistic missiles and rockets used in satellite launches are similar bodies. , engines and other technology.
Mr Lee said solid-fuel rockets are typically used to launch small satellites because they have a weaker thrust than similar liquid-fuel rockets. He said larger satellites can carry larger cameras that produce higher resolution images.
Last year, South Korea’s first domestically produced liquid-fuel space rocket reached its desired height, but was unable to deliver a dummy payload in orbit during its first test launch.
North Korea did not immediately respond to South Korea’s latest rocket launch.
It had previously cited the U.S. decision to lift missile restrictions on South Korea, citing an example of Washington’s hostile policy toward North Korea.