SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea will launch its first lunar module in 2030, with plans to fund private space projects from 2026.
The government will first launch a 550 kilogram lunar orbiter in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by 2020 as planned, and send a follow-up lunar module in 2030.
Plans for South Korea’s long-term space technology development include the country’s very first mission to the moon as well as government funding for private companies pursuing space exploration projects, according to the new roadmap for space technology development released by the National Space Committee on Monday.
The first steps towards the moon landing mission will take place from 2019, including mission analysis and technical standard reviews, with further plans for another project which will see landing modules collect samples from asteroids and return to earth.
From 2026, private companies will be encouraged to conduct space exploration projects, with plans to have private companies launch most small and medium-sized satellites from 2030, in a move that could see a South Korean equivalent of SpaceX created.
Over the next five years, which the government has named as the ‘early stages of the development of the space industry’, job numbers in the aerospace industry are expected to rise from 276 last year to 1,500 in 2022.
The latest move by the government comes following criticism that South Korea lags behind the likes of the U.S., Europe and Japan in private space exploration projects.
The new vision, which was revised from an earlier proposal in 2013, offers plans for space technology research and development projects scheduled under the current administration between 2018 and 2022, as well as long-term goals until 2040.
“The third basic space technology development plan focuses on improving the quality of life and safety of South Koreans, instead of previous goals such as economic development and international reputation,” explained Lee Jin-gyu, the First Vice Minister of Science and ICT.
The government also hopes to make better use of its state-owned satellites in preventing national level crises such as natural disasters and helping the agriculture and fisheries sector.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)