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Korea has developed and is operating KOMPSAT, which is a low-orbit earth observation satellite with optical and imaging radar and IR observation capabilities.
KOMPSAT-1 was jointly developed with a US-based enterprise as Korea had no experience of developing a multipurpose satellite at that time. However, the development of KOMPSAT-2 was led by Korean scientists and engineers based on the experience of developing KOMPSAT-1. The development of the KOMPSAT-2 enabled Korea to achieve a rate of self-sufficiency of 91.5% in satellite design and 65.2% in the fabrication of satellite parts. Korea also became the seventh country in the world to possess a 1m-class high-resolution satellite. It is significant that it was achieved in only around ten years after the country began the development of a satellite.
The foundations for independent satellite technology attained through the development of KOMPSAT-1 and KOMPSAT-2 led to the development of KOMPSAT-3, which is capable of 70cm resolution optical observation, KOMPSAT-5, which is equipped with imaging radar, and KOMPSAT-3A, which is capable of 55cm resolution optical and IR observation.
Except for the manufacturing of some parts, the activities of the design, assembly and testing of KOMPSAT-3, KOMPSAT-5 and KOMPSAT-3A were all performed by KARI. For KOMPSAT-3A, the domestic industry took full responsibility for the development of the spacecraft bus as part of technology transfer for expanding the industrial base in Korea.
KOMPSAT-6, which is an all-weather observation satellite with improved imaging radar performance, and KOMPSAT-7, which has higher precision in the earth observation capabilities, are being developed.
01Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 7
Ultra-high resolution optical satellite is under development with the goal of launching in 2021. It will be the first Korean satellite to apply optical transmission technology for the transfer of ultra-high resolution image in real time and use Terra-bit or higher storage technology to store large-capacity image data. KARI is also developing real-time data compression and encryption technologies to transfer the data to the earth within a limited time.
KARI is developing the satellite with Korean technologies jointly with Korean companies participating in the development of the system, main body, and payloads to foster the domestic satellite industry. The domestic industry leads the development of the satellite body in particular.
02Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 6
The high-resolution radar satellite can observe the earth in all weathers be it day or night. Since the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to be loaded in No. 6 uses the radio wave unlike optical cameras, it can record images even in poor weather or at nighttime. It also has 4 times' better performance (0.5 m resolution) than the imaging radar in Multipurpose Satellite No. 5 to be able to observe the earth more precisely.
03Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 3A
The satellite has a built-in high-resolution (55 cm) electro-optical camera and an IR sensor for the precise observation of the earth. As the first publicly opened satellite to have an IR sensor with wavelength of 3.3 - 5.2 ㎛, it is useful in observing high-temperature situations such as forest fires, volcanic activities, start-up of factories such as nuclear facilities, and urban heat islands wherein the temperature is significantly higher than the surrounding temperature.
The optical resolution of Multipurpose Satellite No. 3A is 0.55 m for B&W and 2.2 m for color images, which are significantly better than that of Multipurpose Satellite No. 3 (0.7 m for B&W and 2.8 m for color), with an additional IR channel developed in Korea. KARI contracted the domestic industry to manufacture the main body to foster the domestic satellite industry.
04Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 5
The satellite is the first domestic satellite to be equipped with SAR to observe the earth in all weathers. Since it creates images by emitting microwaves and synthesizing the reflected signals, it can observe the earth even on cloudy days or at nighttime when there is no solar light. Multipurpose Satellite No. 5 supplements the high-resolution optical and IR images of Multipurpose Satellite Nos. 3 and 3A.
Since the radar emitted by Multipurpose Satellite No. 5 can permeate through the ground or get reflected from water and oil, it can be very useful in disaster situations such as flooding, drought, forest fire, earthquake, ground subsidence, and marine oil spill.
05Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 3
The precision earth observation satellite with the built-in 70 cm electro-optical camera was manufactured, assembled, and tested in Korea except the Advanced Earth Imaging Sensor System (AEISS) parts.
Multipurpose Satellite No. 3 has the following features: multi-zone recording that selects and records a specific area within a certain range below the flight path while quickly varying the angle and posture at the current position; stereo recording that records the front and back of an area on the same flight path; and broadband recording that focuses on specific areas.
06Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 2
Based on its experience in the development of Multipurpose Satellite No. 1, KARI developed the entire process of the design, manufacture, assembly, and test of the satellite. Multipurpose Satellite No. 2 was the seventh satellite in the world to have the 1 m high-resolution camera. The resolution is 40 times better than Multipurpose Satellite No. 1's 6.6 m resolution.
Although the designed life of Multipurpose Satellite No. 2 was originally three years, it has been extended three times to eight years to October 2015. The satellite was converted into a research satellite and is used for the R&D of next-generation satellite technology such as trajectory correction and image quality testing until the end of life. Multipurpose Satellite No. 2 played a key role in expanding the national satellite image asset by securing around 75,400 pictures of Korea and 2.448 million pictures of the world outside of Korea while rotating the earth about 46,800 times during its mission period. The import-substituting effect of satellite images was about KRW 532.3 billion, which was more than twice the development cost of the satellite.
07Multipurpose Satellite (Arirang) No. 1
As Korea’s first practical satellite, it laid the foundation for satellite technology independence. KARI received know-how on core parts through joint development with foreign satellite development companies. It also laid the groundwork for the internal development of Multipurpose Satellite No. 2.
The images obtained by Multipurpose Satellite No. 1 were used for territory management, terrain surveying, map production, and local surveillance. It recorded about 470,000 sheets of satellite images by rotating the earth more than 43,000 times in the orbit at an altitude of 685 km during its mission period. Multipurpose Satellite No. 1 completed its mission in January 2008 after performing the mission for eight years, which was more than twice the design life.