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Multipurpose Satellites(Arirang)

Korea’s Cutting-Edge Satellites for Observing the Earth

Satellite

More countries are developing satellites, with more than 150 satellites launched each year worldwide. Earth observation satellites, meteorological/marine/environmental observation satellites, broadcasting/telecommunication satellites, and navigation satellites have an important role in national security and various fields such as economy, industry, and culture. The value of data observed from satellites is increasing as important big data in the 4th Industrial Revolution era.

Satellite Operation by Each Country in 2020

Type USA Russia China Japan India Korea Others Total
Number of satellites in operation 1,327(44.9%) 169(6.3%) 363(14%) 80(3%) 60(2.2%) 16(0.6%) 651(24%) 2,666(100%)
※ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Satellite Database (‘20.3.31)

Satellite Operation in Each Orbit

Type Low orbit Mid-orbit Geostationary orbit Elliptical orbit Total
Number of satellites in operation 1,918(73%) 135(5%) 554(20%) 59(2%) 2,666(100%)
※ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Satellite Database (‘20.3.31)

Securing satellite development technology to meet national public demand

The research and development of satellites in Korea began in 1994 when the General Science and Technology Council approved a multipurpose satellite (Arirang) development project. The multipurpose Arirang 1 was developed in 1999 to meet public demand for satellite images, with Arirang 2 developed under the initiative in Korea in 2006. Later, Arirang 3, Arirang 5, and Arirang 3A were developed in 2012, 2013, and 2015, respectively. Currently, KARI is developing Arirang 6, a high-precision radar satellite, and Arirang 7 and Arirang 7A as cutting-edge precision earth observation optical satellites. Moreover, it developed Cheollian 1, Korea’s first geostationary orbit satellite capable of independent meteorological and ocean observation services. It also developed—and is currently operating—Cheollian 2A, which is capable of more precise meteorological observation than Cheollian 1, and Cheollian 2B, which is capable of marine observation as well as the world’s first atmospheric environmental observation from the geostationary orbit. In particular, Cheollian 2B is expected to help resolve conflicts between countries and social problems due to fine dust by identifying the migration path of air pollutants, such as fine dust, around the Korean Peninsula. KARI has also developed small and scientific experimental satellites, such as Science and Technology 1 in 2003 and Naro Science and Science and Technology 3 in 2013. KARI has secured its independent satellite development technology by developing multipurpose satellites and geostationary orbit satellites. It is currently developing 500kg next-generation mid-size satellites 1 and 2 for the transfer of satellite technology to private industries with the aim of domestic satellite industrialization.
Subject Arirang (Multipurpose Satellite) Next-Generation Mid-Size Satellite
1 2 3 3A 5 6 7 1 2
Purpose Earth observation(Optical) Precise earth observation(Optical) Precise earth observation(Optical) Precise earth observation(Optical + IR) All-weather earth observation(Image radar) All-weather earth observation(Image radar) Precise earth observation(Optical + IR) Earth observation(EOS) Earth observation(EOS)
Satellite Shape 1호기형상 2호기형상 3호기형상 3A호기형상 5호기형상 6호기형상 7호기형상 차세대중형위성 1호기형상 차세대중형위성 2호기형상
Project Period 1994.11- 2000.1 1999.12 - 2006.11 2004.8 - 2012.8 2006.12 - 2015.12 2005.6 - 2015.6 2012.12 -2020.12 2016.8 - 2023.3 2015 - 2019 2018 - 2020
Weight(kg) 470 kg 800 kg 980 kg Around 1,100 kg Around 1,400 kg 1,750 kg 2000 kg 500 kg class 500 kg class
Mission Life 3 years 3 years 4 years 4 years 5 years 5 years 5 years 4 years 4 years
Performance
(resolution)
B&W 6.6m B&W 1m
Color 4m
B/W 0.7m
Color 2.8m
B&W 0.55m
Color 2.2m
Radar image 1m/3m/20m Radar image 0.5m/3m/20m B&W 0.3m
Color 1.12m
B&W 0.5m
Color 2m
B&W 0.5m
Color 2m
Launch Vehicle Taurus (US) Rockot (Russia) H2-A (Japan) Dnepr (Russia) Dnepr (Russia) Angara1.2 (US/Russia) Vega-C (France) Soyuz-2 (Russia) Soyuz-2 (Russia)
Launch Site Vandenberg (US) Plesetsk (Russia) Tanegashima (Japan) Yasny (Russia) Yasny (Russia) Plesetsk (Russia) Kourou, Guyana (French Territory) Baikonur (Kazakhstan) Baikonur (Kazakhstan)
Launch Date '1999.12.21 '2006.7.28 '2012.5.18 '2015.3.26 '2013.8.22 H2 2021 (Scheduled) H2 2022 (Scheduled) H2 2020 (Scheduled) H2 2020 (Scheduled)
Operation Status Mission completed (2007.12) Mission completed (2008.2) Mission completed (2015.10)) In operation In operation In operation Under development Under development Under development Under development
차세대중형위성, 공공 정지궤도위성의 개발목적, 위성형상, 사업기간, 중량 , 임무수명 , 주요성능 , 발사체 , 발사장 , 발사일 , 특이사항 ,운용현황을 설명하는 표입니다.
Type Public geostationary orbital satellite
Cheollian 1 Cheollian 2A Cheollian 2B
Purpose Public communication/Marine/Weather observation Weather/Spaceobservation Marine/Environmentalobservation
Shape 천리안1호기형상 천리안2호기형상 천리안3호기형상
Development Period 2003.9 - 2010.12 2011.7 - 2020.10
Launch Date 2010.6.27 2018.12.5 2020.2.19
Weight 2,460 kg 3,507 kg 3,386 kg
Life 7 years 10 years 10 years
Satellite body development Astrium(France)/KARIjoint development KARI KARI
Launch vehicle Ariane5 (France) Ariane5 (France) Ariane5 (France)
Launch site Guyana (France) Guyana (France) Guyana (France)
Remarks Korea’s first geostationary orbital satellite First geostationary orbital satellite independently developed in Korea
Operation Status In operation In operation In operation

World-class satellite development technology

Although Korea was a latecomer, having begun developing satellites in the 1990s, it has come a long way thanks to continuous investment and R&D, and it is considered to be among the world's top six or seven in terms of satellite development capability. It has secured the world's most advanced satellite design, analysis, assembly, and test technologies to meet various domestic satellite demands. Having constructed a cutting-edge satellite testing facility, it owns satellite operation infrastructure and technology and satellite information utilization technology essential for satellite development. KARI has accumulated technologies for developing low-orbit earth observation satellites and geostationary satellites applying advanced technologies through world-class satellite research and development. It transfers its satellite development technologies to private industries.

Multipurpose Satellites(Arirang)

Updates : 2021.06.25

Independent satellite development know-how

The development of the multipurpose utility satellite Arirang enabled securing independent satellite development know-how and meeting public demand for satellite images. Arirang is a low-orbit earth observation satellite that secures various satellite data with payloads such as electro-optical cameras, image radar, and infrared cameras. It is used for land/marine monitoring, weather/geology/agriculture/water resources monitoring, and disaster response. KARI developed Arirang 1, the first multipurpose satellite in Korea, in 1999. This was followed by Arirang 2, the world’s seventh satellite capable of generating 1-meter resolution images, based on KARI's experience in developing Arirang 1.

World's 5th largest satellite development technology

KARI developed Arirang 3 with optical observation capability of 70cm resolution, Arirang 5 with imaging radar for earth observation regardless of weather conditions and be it day or night, and Arirang 3A with 55cm optical IR. It is currently developing Arirang 6, the successor to Arirang 5, with improved imaging radar performance, and Arirang 7 and Arirang 7A equipped with ultra-precise optical and infrared sensors.

01Multipurpose Satellite 3A(Arirang)

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Korea’s first satellite to load IR sensors

As Korea's first satellite with high-performance optical payload and IR sensors, Arirang 3A is equipped with AEISS-A (Advanced Earth Imaging Sensor System-A), a high-resolution electro-optical camera with 55cm resolution, and IR sensors; thus enabling high-resolution optical and IR observations. Arirang 3A operates in the solar synchronous orbit, and it is used to secure public safety as well as for disaster and environmental monitoring and resource management through high-resolution precision optical observation with resolution of 55 cm and IR observation regardless of weather conditions, be it day or night.

Submeter-Class Earth Observation Satellites

Satellite Body Manufacturing Country Electro-optical Camera Performance Year Launched
EROS-B IAI (Israel) (B&W)0.87 m, (Color)3.5 m 2003
GeoEye I Orbital (USA) (B&W)0.41 m, (Color)1.65 m 2008
World ViewII Ball Aerospace (USA) (B&W)0.46 m, (Color)1.84 m 2009
Pleiades EADS Astrium (Europe) (B&W)0.5 m, (Color)2.0 m 2011
IGS 8A, 8B JAXA (Japan) (B&W)0.4 m, (Radar)1 m 2013
KARI has secured IR observation satellites developed only in some advanced countries such as the United States, France, and Germany, with the infrared sensor image boasting of the world's top-level quality compared to images generated by overseas commercial infrared sensor-equipped satellites. IR imaging has contributed to the creation of high added values in domestic and overseas remote exploration and overseas satellite imaging markets by enabling the complementary operation of high-resolution optical imaging and radar imaging.

Securing independent, high-performance optical/IR imaging satellite technology

Arirang 3A was developed domestically to develop high-performance optical and IR imaging satellites independently and secure the base technology for entering the global satellite market afterward. KARI transferred its know-how related to developing the Arirang 3A satellite body to a private enterprise, and the R&D project was selected as one of the top 100 excellent national R&D achievements in 2015. Arirang 3A is currently operating normally through a four-year mission period and a two-year life extension.
  • Specification Diameter 2.0 m, height 3.8 m, and weight 1,100 kg
  • Operating orbitLow orbit
  • MissionPrecise earth observation
  • PayloadHigh-resolution electro-optical camera (resolution 55 cm) and IR camera
  • Launch dateMarch 26, 2015

02Multipurpose Satellite 5(Arirang)

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Korea’s first satellite to load imaging radar (SAR)

Arirang 5 is Korea's first earth observation satellite equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for all-weather ground and ocean observations above the Korean Peninsula. The SAR mounted in Arirang 5 emits a microwave to an object on the ground and synthesizes the reflected signal to produce the image. It enables ground observation even during nighttime and poor weather. As part of Arirang 5's development, KARI developed a significant portion of its technology, excluding its main core technology, with domestic technology. The imaging radar payload’s core technology was developed through technical cooperation with overseas partners since it was not available in Korea. Through the development of Arirang 5, KARI was able to secure the technology related to imaging radar and imaging radar correction and processing technology. Arirang 5 added four operational modes—improved high-resolution mode with resolution of 1m (observation width of 3 ㎞×3 ㎞), ultra-high-resolution mode of 0.85 m (2.7㎞×2.7㎞), enhanced standard-resolution mode of 2.5m (30 ㎞), and enhanced wide-area observation mode of 20 m (100 km)—through post-launch performance improvement to provide improved high-resolution, high-quality images.
Subject Imaging Radar Payload Remarks
Mass 520kg Excluding the mass of the payload module structure
Maximum power consumption 1700W -
Incident angle 20 - 55˚ -
Standard-resolution mode 3 m (resolution) / 30 km (observation width) Based on incident angle of 45˚
High-resolution mode 1 m (resolution) / 5 km (observation width) Based on incident angle of 45˚
Wide-area observation mode 20 m (resolution) / 100 km (observation width) Based on incident angle of 45˚
Polarized observation Selected observation among HH, HV, VH, and VV -
Image acquisition time Average of two minutes per orbit Time for longitudinal observation of the Korean Peninsula
Image storage capacity 256Gbit -
Image transmission capacity 310Mbps Real-time transmission of observed images of the Korean Peninsula

Imaging Radar (SAR) Satellites Worldwide

Country Satellite Resolution Altitude Weight Year Launched
Germany TerraSAR-X 1m, 3m, 16m 514km 1,230kg 2007
TanDEM-X 1m∼16m 514km 1,330kg 2010
Italy Cosmo-SkyMed-3 ≤1m, 3m∼100m 619km 1,700kg 2008
Cosmo-SkyMed-4 ≤1m, 3m∼100m 619km 1,700kg 2010
Israel TecSAR-1 ≤1m, 3m, 8m 550km 300kg 2008
Russia Kondor-E1 1m ~ 3m 550km 800kg 2010

Securing radar images in any weather, be it day/night

The development of Arirang 5 enabled securing not only existing optical images but also all-weather, day and night radar images as demanded in Korea. Arirang 5 is capable of all-weather observation and is used in national disasters and emergency management by complementing the optical and IR images of Arirang 2, Arirang 3, and Arirang 3A. The images of Arirang 5 can be used for geographic information systems (GIS), ocean observation, ground observation, disaster monitoring, and environmental monitoring. They are currently used for land and urban planning, water resources, agriculture, ocean, forestry, environment, map production, and geological resource utilization. The development of Arirang 5 opened an opportunity to secure the basis for the development of the Arirang 6 imaging radar with resolution of 50 cm with Korean technologies and imaging radar correction and processing technologies. Arirang 5 has successfully completed its mission for five years, operating for an extended period of 2 years as of 2019.
  • SpecificationDiameter 2.6 m, height 3.9 m, and weight 1,315 kg
  • Operating orbitLow orbit
  • MissionAll-weather earth observation
  • PayloadAll-weather imaging radar (SAR, resolution 1m)
  • Launch dateAugust 22, 2013

03Multipurpose Satellite 3(Arirang)

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Korea’s first submeter-class satellite

As the first submeter-class, high-resolution earth observation satellite in Korea, Arirang 3 was developed to meet public demand and enter the overseas satellite image service market. As part of Arirang 3's development, KARI developed satellite development processes including satellite system, payload, main body, system assembly, and test using independent domestic technology. It also developed a submeter-class optical payload (AEISS, Advanced Earth Imaging Sensor System) with resolution of 70 cm for the first time in Korea.

Securing high-resolution satellite camera technology

Demand for submeter-class high-resolution satellites increased with the commercial US IKONOS 2 (resolution 82 cm) launched in 1999 and Quickbird 2 (62 cm resolution) unveiled in 2001. In particular, IKONOS 2 was the first satellite to open the commercial application of high-resolution earth observation satellites. At the time of development of Arirang 3, the US had the most advanced satellite image technology as France, India, Japan, Israel, China, Russia, and Germany had not yet developed submeter satellites. KARI has secured submeter-class high-resolution satellite camera technology through cooperation with European countries. Arirang 3 has been orbiting Earth about 15 times a day at an altitude of 685 km and collecting high-resolution imaging data for public safety, land and resource management, and disaster monitoring through earth observation. It collects the images and provides commercialization service for satellite images. Having extended its mission life by two years twice after the initial four years of mission life, Arirang 3 will carry out precision earth observation until 2022.
  • SpecificationDiameter 2.0 m, height 3.0 m, and weight 980 kg
  • Operating orbitLow orbit
  • MissionEarth observation
  • PayloadElectro-optical camera (70 cm resolution)
  • Launch dateMay 18, 2012

04Multipurpose Satellite 2(Arirang)

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World’s seventh 1 meter-class electro-optical camera payload

Arirang 2 is the world's seventh earth observation satellite equipped with an electro-optical camera with resolution of 1m. Launched in 2006, Arirang 2 was converted into research use after successfully performing Earth observation mission for nine years until 2015. For Arirang 2, KARI developed the entire process from the satellite body’s design to manufacturing, assembly, and testing with domestic technology. The 1-meter high-resolution camera was manufactured through joint development with overseas partners. The development of Arirang 2 laid the foundation for the development of an application satellite with Korean technologies.

Benefit of import substitution worth twice the satellite development costs through image sales

Arirang Satellite 2's 1-meter resolution image features more than 40 times the precision of Arirang 1’s 6.6-meter resolution. The high-resolution imaging applied advanced satellite technologies, such as precise satellite altitude control and compression/storage/transmission of image data. Arirang 2’s 1-meter high-resolution camera can identify not only buildings but also automobiles. The high-resolution images are used in various public and private sectors for improving public convenience, such as land management, disaster and emergency management, environmental and marine pollution analysis, and crop cultivation/production analysis. The successful development of Arirang 2 is significant since it has secured cutting-edge observation satellites that can be used independently for national public demand, land development, natural disaster, and environmental monitoring. Arirang 2 secured about 75,400 domestic and 2,483,300 overseas high-resolution images during its mission period. It has realized import substitution effects worth approximately KRW 532.3 billion, which is twice the cost of satellite development, by meeting public demand for high-resolution satellite images. Moreover, it entered the overseas satellite image service market and sold images worth about KRW 21.6 billion overseas. With the development of Arirang 2, Korea joined the International Charter, an international UN program for cooperation in disaster response, in July 2011; it has provided satellite images for humanitarian purposes during overseas disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
  • SpecificationDiameter 2.0 m, height 2.8 m, and weight 800 kg
  • Operating orbitLow orbit
  • MissionEarth observation
  • PayloadHigh-resolution multi-band camera (resolution 1m)
  • Launch dateJuly 28, 2006

05Multipurpose Satellite 1(Arirang)

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Development of Korea’s first application satellite

As Korea's first application satellite, Arirang Satellite 1 was developed to secure the foundation for the localization, operation, and use of satellites for Korean peninsula observation, ocean observation, and scientific experiments. Arirang 1 was developed jointly with US-based TRW as Korea had no experience and know-how when it comes to developing application satellites. Core technologies for the major parts of each subsystem of the satellite body were secured through joint development with overseas partners. As a result, the design, manufacturing, and testing technologies for core satellite parts were secured. The development of Arirang 1 became a foothold for the localization and development of subsequent satellites such as Arirang 2. The project constructed the satellite test building as the first satellite assembly test facility in Korea and the Satellite Control Center to control Arirang’s missions.

Laying the groundwork to enter overseas satellite markets

Arirang 1 was equipped with an electro-optical camera (EOC) with resolution of 6.6 m, an ocean observation camera (ocean scanning multi-spectral imager, OSMI), an ionosphere measurement sensor (IMS), and a high-energy particle detector (HEPD). It is an earth observation satellite for the Korean Peninsula and marine observations to meet public demand in Korea. It orbited the earth 43,000 times in low orbit and recorded about 470,000 satellite images during the mission period. It secured 100% of the images of the entire Korean Peninsula and performed missions, including shooting large-scale forest fires around the east coast, yellow dust, red tides, typhoons, floods, and other major disaster areas around the Korean Peninsula. Arirang 1 enabled Korea to enter the overseas satellite image market by signing a USD 2.1-million, 6-year commercial image reception contract with the United Arab Emirates in 2001. It has also contributed to the international cooperation in the field of satellite imagery with Thailand, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, and European Space Agency. Arirang 1 ended its official earth observation mission in January 2008 after about eight years of service. Arirang 1 was of great significance since it laid the foundation for securing the domestic development capability of application satellites. The name “Arirang” was selected through a public contest.
  • SpecificationDiameter 1.3 m, height 2.4 m, and weight 470 kg
  • Operating orbiLow orbit
  • MissionEarth observation
  • PayloadElectro-optical camera (resolution 6.6 m) and marine observation camera (resolution 1.1km)
  • Launch dateDecember 21, 1999 (mission terminated in January 2008)
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