The South Korean army wants to put its first spy satellite into orbit at the end of this month to keep an eye on neighboring North Korea. A Falcon 9 rocket from the commercial space company SpaceX will launch the satellite from the Vandenberg military base in the US state of California, the South Korean Ministry of Defense announced on Monday. Scheduled date is Thursday, November 30.
The launch is part of a project to develop its own reconnaissance satellites to monitor strategic targets in North Korea and to better respond to possible threats, it said. For military surveillance from space, South Korea mainly depends on data from its ally the United States. Seoul plans to launch four more spy satellites into space over the next two years. South Korea and the US both see themselves threatened by North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.
Pyongyang also wants to put satellites into orbit for military purposes. The South Korean military believes that North Korea is currently preparing a third attempt to launch a reconnaissance satellite. Two previous attempts this year failed, and experts say an October launch was canceled for technical reasons.
South Korea is concerned that Pyongyang will receive support from Russia in its next launch attempt in exchange for the supply of ammunition and weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Moscow is said to have received up to a million artillery shells and other military equipment since early August. This should be evident from the observation of container deliveries by sea between the North Korean port of Rajin and Russian ports.
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