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South Korea's first-ever military satellite launched

16:30 | 21/07/2020

The ANASIS-II satellite makes South Korea the 10th country in the world to own a military-only communications satellite.

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south koreas first ever military satellite launched
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the ANASIS-II satellite blasting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 20, 2020. Photo: AFP

South Korea successfully launched its first independent military communication satellite into space Monday, US time, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Tuesday, cited Korea Herald.

Atop a rocket developed by US space firm Space X, the Anasis-II satellite lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:30 p.m. local time. After separating from the rocket, it successfully tested for ground communication at 7:19 p.m., the arms procurement agency said.

With the launch of Anasis-II, Korea has become the 10th country in the world to operate a wholly independent military communication satellite, the agency added.

“With the successful launch of the Anasis-II satellite, South Korea has now been able to secure its first military-only communication satellite, which will replace the ANASIS-I satellite used for both civilian and military purposes,” DAPA said in a release.

SpaceX, the private rocket company belonging to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, confirmed the satellite deployed about 32 minutes after lift-off, reported Aljazeera.

The latest satellite is expected to reach its orbit of 36,000 kilometers in two weeks.

In October, the Korean military will take over the satellite operation, after seeing that it reaches the projected orbit and having it tested for its functional operability by manufacturer Airbus Defense and Space.

Airbus was the subcontracted manufacturer who provided the satellite technologies to Korea as part of Seoul’s deal with prime US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, from which Korea purchased 40 F-35A fighter jets.

south koreas first ever military satellite launched
The ANASIS-II satellite is shipped from Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France to be prepared for launch at Cape Canaveral. Photo: NASA Spaceflight 

DAPA said the latest military satellite will enhance the military’s communication levels.

Anasis-II was originally scheduled to launch in early July, but the launch was put off due to further inspections of the equipment.

According to Aljazeera, Seoul is looking to enhance its military capabilities as it pushes to end an arrangement under which, if war breaks out, US commanders would have authority over their combined forces.

The satellite was "expected to improve the South Korean military's independent operational capabilities", an official at its defence ministry told Yonhap news agency.

Seoul and Washington are security allies and the US stations 28,500 troops in the country.

But their relationship has been strained in recent years, triggered by differences in their approaches to Pyongyang, and over cost-sharing responsibilities, commented AFP.

The moment of Anasis-II's liftoff. Video: SpaceX

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Tony Nguyen

AFP, Korea Herald, Aljazeera