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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.
Scheduled to be launched in 2021, KOMPSAT-7 is the follow-up model of KOMPSAT-3A. It is being developed with the goal of providing high-resolution satellite images to satisfy the national needs. The spacecraft bus is being developed with Korean technologies under the leadership of Korean company(ies). Also the Korean companies are participating in the development of the payload which is developed by KARI promoting the capabilities of domestic satellite industry.
KOMPSAT-7 will be equipped with the high resoultion sapceborne camera named AEISS-HR(Advanced Earth Imaging Sensor System with High Resolution), which possesses the world-class 0.3m or less resolution optical imaging capability developed by the best know-how of KARI.
Scheduled for launch in 2020, KOMPSAT-6 will be equipped with the SAR developed and manufactured with Korean technology in cooperation with the domestic industry. Developed in Korea, KOMPSAT-6 will use the unique 1N class, single propellant thruster for precision position control and orbit adjustment.
KOMPSAT-3A is the world’s first civilian satellite that is equipped with a high-resolution, infrared(MWIR) sensor which enables nighttime observation. It also provides the optical images with high resolution of 50 cm or less for the second in the world following the US.
The technology of improving the optical image quality by 30% or more without degradation using diagonal data to provide 38-cm-class images was developed for the second following the EU.
The high-resolution electro-optical spaceborne camera AEISS-A(Advanced Earth Imaging Sensor System-A) developed by KARI and accommodated on KOMPSAT-3A platform features 50cm class optical photography, which marks the highest resolution among cameras mounted on domestic satellites. The IR sensor, which is capable of detecting heat on the ground, is used to observe fire, volcanic activity and urban thermal islands during nighttime, even under any weather conditions.
KOMPSAT-3A operates in the sun’s synchronous orbit at an altitude of 528km and passes over Korea twice(day and night), photographing the Korean Peninsula for up to 50 minutes each day.
The spacecraft bus of KOMPSAT-3A was developed by a private enterprise, while KARI transferred the technology to expand the domestic satellite industrial base.
KOMPSAT-5 is an earth observation satellite equipped with Korea's first all-weather SAR.
The SAR mounted on KOMPSAT-5 emits microwaves to an object on the ground and synthesizes the reflected signal to produce an image. It enables ground observation even during nighttime and poor weather conditions.
As the SAR image can supplement the optical camera, which can record only the visible light spectrum, it is utilized in mutual supplementary operations with the high-resolution optical images of KOMPSAT-3 and KOMPSAT-3A.
KOMPSAT-5 observes the Korean Peninsula four times a day. The transmitted image data are used for public safety, natural disaster forecasts, land/resource management and environmental monitoring.
KOMPSAT-3 is a high-resolution earth observation satellite equipped with a sub-meter resolution sapceborne camera named AEISS.
The spacecraft bus and parts of KOMPSAT-3 were not only developed in Korea but also designed, assembled and tested in Korea. In addition, Korea's first sub-meter resolution electro-optical payload, was developed by KARI, thus enabling Korea to achieve world-class optical payload development capability.
KOMPSAT-3 circles the planet around fifteen times each day in the earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 685 km.
KOMPSAT-2 is an earth observation satellite equipped with a 1m high-resolution multispectral camera. It was converted to a research satellite in October 2015 after successfully carrying out its mission for nine years.
KOMPSAT-2 played the key role in expanding national satellite image assets by transmitting around 75,400 pictures of Korea and 2.448 million pictures of the world. The import-substitution effect of satellite images is estimated to be around KRW 532.3 billion, which is more than twice the cost of developing the satellite.
The development of KOMPSAT-2 gave Korea the opportunity to attain the capability to independently design, fabricate, assemble and test satellites. In addition, Korea became the seventh country in the world to possess a satellite equipped with a 1m high-resolution spaceborne camera.
KOMPSAT-2 will be used in the research and development of next-generation satellite technologies such as orbit change and image quality testing until its life expires due to loss of communication, etc.
The mission of KOMPSAT-1 was terminated in January 2008 eight years after its launch.
KOMPSAT-1 circled the earth 43,000 times at an altitude of 685 km during its mission and photographed and transmitted around 47,000 satellite images to Korea.
Historically, KOMPSAT-1 is regarded as having laid the foundations for Korea's independent satellite technology. Its joint development with a foreign agency began in 1994 when Korea had no experience of developing multipurpose satellites, and the satellite was successfully launched in 1999. The experience presented an opportunity for Korea to accumulate the technology required to be able to develop the body of KOMPSAT-2 independently.