Russia Derails Plans for Korean Satellite Launch

      June 04, 2012 13:34

      Korea's plan to launch a satellite that would give it an all-weather monitoring system by the end of this year has been thwarted by Russia. The satellite, the Arirang-5, is capable of 24-hour weather observation, even in cloudy weather and on dark nights.

      But the Russian government, which had promised to provide the rocket, has not yet issued the permit. There is a clause on compensation for delayed launches in the agreement, but as pursuing compensation takes a long time and the Korean government has already paid more than half of the W19 billion (US$1=W1,179) cost of the launch to a Russian space agency, there is little the Korean government can do.

      Minister of Education, Science, and Technology Lee Ju-ho told Korean correspondents in Moscow on Friday, "We have asked the Russian Federal Space Agency to clear the Arirang-5 for launch in the second half of this year, but haven't heard back from them."

      Lee was in Russia on a three-day trip to visit the space agency and the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, which manufactured part of a space rocket Korea is hoping to build.

      Arirang-5 was made by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and cost W240 billion. It is a remote sensing satellite which obtains geographic information by electron beam. Unlike previous satellites in the series, it can monitor geographic information in any weather and by day or night.

      KARI commissioned the launch for W19 billion in 2007 from International Space Company Kosmotras, a Russia-Ukraine-Kazakhstan joint venture. The original plan was to launch the Arirang-5 at a base in Yasni in Russia in August 2011 after modifying a rocket bought from the Russian military. But the Russian Defense Ministry has delayed issuing the requisite permit.

      A government official here said, "The Russian government is now saying that they'll issue the permit within six months if we buy a rocket launcher that Russia has developed. It all seems to come down to money in the end."

      He added suing ISC Kosmotras for compensation would probably scupper the whole launch plan.

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