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News Release

Successful Launch of Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1

  • Department Administrator
  • Registration Date 2021-04-02
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◇ Successful detachment of Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1 about 64 minutes after the launch, operating normally
◇ Successful first communication with the Svalbard Ground Station in Norway at 04:49 PM


□The Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) announced that Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1 was successfully launched from Kazakhstan‘s Baikonur Space Center at around 15:07 (around 11:07 local time) on March 22.
◦ Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1 was normally separated from the Soyuz 2.1a launch vehicle at a perigee of about 484km (apogee of 508km) about 64 minutes after the launch, successfully performing the first communication with the Svalbard Ground Station in Norway 38 minutes later (about 102 minutes after the launch).
◦ The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) confirmed the good condition of the main body of Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1 and successful reach in the initial elliptical orbit (forming a perigee of 484km and an apogee of 508km) through communication with the earth station.
◦ Successfully launched after six years of development since 2015, the low-orbit practical satellite for precision ground observation developed by KARI with support from MSIT and MOLIT will be fully operational to provide standard image products to users beginning October after six months of initial operation on the orbit at an altitude of 497.8km.


□ The Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite Development project is executed in two phases. Phase 1 develops two mid-size satellites (units 1 and 2) for precision ground observation (0.5m in B&W and 2.0m in color) to secure the standard 500kg satellite standard body (platform), whereas phase 2 uses the standard 500kg platform secured in phase 1 to localize the third unit.
* Units 1 and 2 (Land satellite): MSIT (Managing ministry), MOLIT (User ministry)

◦ During the development process of unit 1, KARI operated the joint design teams with domestic industries and successfully transferred technology. Beginning with unit 2, industries are managing the development from design to manufacturing. The industries are managing the development of satellite unit 3* using the standard satellite platform to load various payloads during Phase 2 of the Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite Development project (began in 2018).
* Unit 3: Verification of space science and technology (MSIT), unit 4: Wide area agricultural observation (MSIT, Rural Development Administration, and Korea Forest Service), unit 5: Water resource observation with C-band image radar (MSIT and Ministry of Environment)

◦ In particular, Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1 has a performance similar to Multipurpose Practical Satellite 3A (launched in March 2015) while reducing the weight by half (about 1,100kg (Multipurpose Practical Satellite 3A) → about 540kg (Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1). It has achieved a high localization rate* through the joint development of most key components by domestic industries and research institutes.
* Localization of 157 out of 172 key technologies and parts (91.3%): System (86.3%) and payload (98.6%)


□ In the future, MOLIT as the main user ministry plans to process the precision ground observation images provided by KARI into high-quality (position accuracy of 1-2m) precision orthophoto images* at the National Land Satellite Center set up within the National Geographic Information Institute, for quick provision to user organizations for public and private sector services such as land and resource management and disaster response.
* Video that corrects geometric distortions caused by topographic ruggedness, such as height difference or tilting of satellite images, and converts into image when viewing all objects vertically

◦ The precision ground observation images obtained from Next-Generation Mid-size Satellite 1 are used as reference data to implement digital twin* land, which is the key program of the Korean New Deal, and are expected to contribute significantly to creating new industrial support such as smart city, self-driving, and drone and various convergence industries including disaster safety services.
*A technology that implements real spatial information in a virtual world and simulates it to predict the results


□“This launch localized key satellite components, such as optical payload, and laid the foundation for the satellite industry by transferring KARI’s satellite development know-how and experience accumulated over the years to the private sector. It signaled the K-satellite Era. It is significant that it has contributed to improving people’s quality of life and presenting hope to the public at a time when everybody is having difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Choi Ki-young, Minister of Science and ICT, in a congratulatory phone call with the research team at the launching site immediately after the successful launch.

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