Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a leading aerospace technology company, was selected on July 7, 2015 as the priority negotiator for the first phase project of developing next generation medium-sized satellites by the Korean government. As part of the mid- and long-term plan of developing aerospace technologies, the next generation medium-sized satellite development project aims to develop and launch a total of 12 satellites by 2025 in three phases. The entire project requires 842.6 billion won (approx. US$748.3 million) and it may reach around 1 trillion won (approx. US$888 million) when operating costs are included.
When it concludes the final contract, KAI will take initiative in developing the platform of 500kg-standard satellite for 12 next generation medium-sized satellites and two medium-sized satellites for precise ground observation (with cameras of 0.5 meters in black-and-white resolution and 2.0 meters in color resolution) in the first phase project by 2020 with a total budget of 224 billion won (approx. US$200 million). In line with the aerospace development roadmap of the Korean government, 12 next generation medium-sized satellites will consist of satellites for diverse purposes, including ground observation, surveillance, weather/environment, space science and verification. Some of these satellites will be launched by Korea-developed launch vehicles, using launching pads in other countries.
And these satellites will be used by a variety of government agencies, such as Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Environment, Korea Meteorological Administration, Korea Forest Service, Statistics Korea, and Rural Development Administration.
Unlike previous satellite development projects, which were led by the government, the next generation satellite development project will be carried forward by private companies. In developing the first medium-sized satellite, Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) will transfer experiences and technologies accumulated in the course of developing satellites, systems, spacecraft and payload systems to private companies by organizing a joint design team. Starting from the second medium-sized satellite, private companies will be responsible for developing satellites in entirety, ranging from design to building processes. This is a part of strategy of advancing and sharpening global competitive edge of aerospace industry by commercializing aerospace technologies. The MSIP plans to support the industry to establish mass production system and export satellites using the standard satellite platform developed through the next generation medium-sized satellite development project.
An executive at KAI explained, “We will be able to enhance price competitiveness and significantly reduce development period by using the standard satellite platform that can freely install various payload systems, such as electro-optical cameras, synthesized aperture radars (SARs) and infrared devices.” Now that it is selected as the priority negotiator for the project of developing next generation medium-sized satellites following its selection as the company for assembling and integrating satellite launch vehicles last year, KAI has set up foundation for growing as a leading aerospace technology company. Leveraging these projects, KAI aims to expand into the market of developing medium- and large-sized satellites, while providing commercial satellite launching services. The company expects to achieve 350 billion won (approx. US$312.5 million) in sales within 10 years to come, an increase of 20 times over last year.
Over past years, KAI has been accumulating capabilities of developing 500kg~1,500kg spacecrafts by actively taking part in developing multi-purpose satellites of the government, such as satellite (Arirang) No. 2, No. 3, No. 5, No. 3A and No. 6. It also successfully developed various aircrafts, including ‘T-50’, an advanced supersonic trainer and light attack jet, and ‘Surion’, the world’s top advanced helicopter, ‘KT-1’, a basic trainer for air force pilots developed in collaboration with the Agency for Defense Development (ADD). Other aircrafts developed by KAI include an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and ‘KC-100 (Naraon)’, a single piston 4-seater for commercial transportation and pilot training. To successfully expand business areas, the company will increase employees at its aerospace division from the current around 100 to over 320.
President Ha Sung-yong of KAI said, “As part of our effort to open up the world aerospace market with high barrier, we are devising a strategy of exporting aircraft, launch vehicle and satellite in a package.”