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Wed, May 30, 2007

South Korea Plans To Enter Space Race

Country Hopes To Locate More Resources

The South Korean government announced Monday it is going to push for space travel, specifically planet exploration, and plans to do so as early as 2017.

The country has plans to spend $4 billion over the next 10 years for technologies in building satellites and rockets, said Jeong Hae-yang, an official of the Science and Technology Ministry, according to the Associated Press.

South Korea announced its determination at a public hearing. The project should be finalized in June, according to the ministry.

Included in its ambitious plans are joining international space exploration programs, such as and including the international space station, to help master the core technologies of building rockets and satellites, said Jeong.

The Ministry is quite serious about its bid to join the country club of space travelers. It said in April it plans to launch the first rocket to put a satellite in orbit in late 2008. Russia has committed to provide technology to help with the launch, according to Space Daily.

The two countries signed a technology safeguard agreement in October 2006. South Korea's National Assembly ratified the TSA to allow close cooperation in the peaceful use of space technology.

In March of this year, South Korea began negotiations with Germany to buy second-hand, US-built Patriot anti-ballistic missile interceptors, according to the Korean Times. The Seoul government planned to buy no less than 48 Patriots under a $1-billion project called SAM-X. The purchase package is supposed to include "launch modules and relevant radar systems from Germany beginning in 2008 to replace (South Korea's) aging ground-to-air Nike Hercules missiles."

South Korea has launched nine satellites since 1992, primarily for communications, but also for ocean and space observation. The satellites have ridden into orbit atop foreign rockets.

Jeong described space exploration as "an investment for the future" and it is hoped that such exploration will help lead to new resources sorely needed by the country.



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