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Korea Multi-purpose Satellite (KOMPSAT)

As prime contractor in charge of Korea's satellite programs, KARI is pursuing an ambitious space plan: following the KITSAT series of microsatellites (1 to 4) and the KOMPSAT-1 and KOMPSAT-2 Earth observation satellites, it is now pursuing its programme with the development of KOMPSAT-3 and KOMPSAT-5, as well as COMS-1, a communications, meteorology and oceanography satellite. KARI has plans for 10 more satellites in the pipeline for the coming decade.

The KOMPSAT program was initiated in 1995 as a major space investment in Korea. Its objective is the development of a national space segment in Earth observation along with an efficient infrastructure and ground segment to provide valuable services to remote sensing users in various fields of applications. KARI has been developing Korea Multi-purpose Satellite (KOMPSAT), a small 500-kg Earth observation satellite with an orbital altitude of 685 km, jointly with TRW Inc. of the United States of America. KOMPSAT is expected to help raise the country's space technology level to make it one of the world's top 10 nations by the year 2010. The KOMPSAT payloads include a high-resolution electro-optical camera, an ocean observation camera, an ionosphere measurement sensor and a high-energy particle detector.

In addition to securing technologies to build satellites, Korea has been making efforts to build the operational capability for satellite systems. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute is responsible for the development of ground control stations for KOMPSAT, based on the Institute's accumulated experience in development, tracking, controlling and operating satellite systems for KOREASAT-1 and -2. A ground station for KOMPSAT is in final preparation for operation at KARI. The ground station facilities include S-band and X-band antennae, data-storage and -processing equipment, satellite operation software, mission analysis and planning software, and a satellite simulator.


KOMPSAT, the Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite, was the first spacecraft development project for the South Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The spacecraft is based on TRW Eagle class of lightweight, modular spacecraft. It has 3-axis stabilisation with dual solar rays. The payload included a CCD imaging system, a low-resolution camera for Earth Observation, a device to measure the Earth's ionospheric and magnetic fields and a high-energy particle detector. KOMPSAT-1 is a high resolution optical mission of Korea launched in 1999. Through a 3rd party mission agreement ESA will make a sample dataset of European cities available from this satellite.

KOMPSAT-2 Arirang-2

The Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 2 was launched on July 28, 2006 and is orbiting the Earth 14 times a day at an altitude of 685km. It is capable of taking photostatic images with 1m panchromatic resolution and 4m multi-spectral resolution. Images taken by Arirang 2 were distributed from June 1 overseas through the overseas sales agency SPOT Image of France.

The satellite travels along its 685 km Sun-synchronous circular orbit at a inclination of 98.14°, passing the ascending node at 10.50 a.m. To acquire satellite design technologies, 25 technical staff of KARI have joined the some 125-member TRW design team. Seven Korean industrial enterprises have also dispatched some 30 engineers for the same programme. The participating Korean industries are responsible for the Koreanization of satellite components. KARI has mobilized some 50 researchers in the Republic of Korea to study satellite design data at TRW and to learn about satellite systems and components.

This mission involves Electro-Optics Industries Ltd. (El-Op) of Rehovot, Israel, and the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), part of South Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology. El-Op supplied the camera for KOMPSAT-2. The camera takes black-and-white images with 1-meter spatial resolution and four-channel color pictures with 4-meter resolution. KARI intends to build the spacecraft platform, although the institute was seeking outside consultancy services for the effort. The mission of the KOMPSAT program is to provide Earth resources research and surveys of natural resources, conduct surveillance of large-scale disasters and mitigation efforts, collect high-resolution images for South Korea's Geographical Information System and provide printed and digitized maps The high-resolution optical payload, a panchromatic electro-optical camera, has a ground resolution of 6.6 metres. It will be used mainly to collect geological data for cartography missions and more efficient land use. The ocean observation payload is a wide-band camera, which can obtain data from six spectral bands. The payload has 1 km resolution, with the swath of 800 km, which can be used to observe and examine the world's ocean resources and pollution or atmospheric pollution and sandy dust phenomena. The ionosphere measurement sensor and the high-energy particle detector, comprising the scientific instruments, are expected to provide data on the temperature and density of electrons in the ionosphere and on the distribution of high-energy particles in space. The payloads provide data on the scientific experiments, including the effects of space radiation on satellite sub-units.

KARI developed the KOMPSAT-2 program in close collaboration with EADS Astrium, in particular to acquire VHR imagery for South Korea's needs in mapping, urban planning and hazard management. KOMPSAT-2 is a VHR optical imaging satellite (1-m resolution in black and white, 4 m in colour) capable of acquiring up to 7,500 images with a ground footprint of 15 km x 15 km every day-equivalent to 1.7 million km˛ a day. These features and imaging capacity, ideal for detecting and identifying ground features, make KOMPSAT-2 a key asset for mapping at scales of 1:5 000 to 1:2 000.

High-resolution images taken by Arirang 2 are available through an internet search system. The images can be purchased directly online. Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) announced that satellite images taken by Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 2 would be distributed in Korea from December 14, 2007.

The images are distributed for various purposes: nonprofit; public study; commercial use, etc. In case of public study, KARI will distribute the images with free-of-charge shipping. In cases of commercial use and other uses, KAI, acting as the sales agency of Arirang 2 images in Korea, will distribute them at the commercial price.

In order to accelerate the use of satellite images and stimulate related industries in Korea, the commercial distribution price will be set at 1/5 the price of foreign satellite images, and in certain cases, the final price will be set at 1/20. The distribution price of satellite images can vary according to a number of conditions such as form (photostatic image, new photographing).

The satellite image distribution procedure is as follows: Check existing data (photostatic images) on the internet search system (, register as a user, and make applications to KARI or Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). When making requests for new photographing, it could take some time to respond since national demand will have precedence over individual requests.


KOMPSAT-3 with high-resolution optical sensor had an initially scheduled launch date of 2008, later slipped to 2009. Initially the. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) received an order from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) to launch the Korea Multipurpose Satellite-3 (KOMPSAT-3). The transaction, which Mr. Hideaki Omiya, President of MHI, signed the agreement in Korea on January12, represents the first satellite launch services order placed to MHI by an overseas customer. The launch is slated to take place in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012.

The KOMPSAT-3 mission objective is to provide satellite earth observation continuing from the KOMPSAT-1 and KOMPSAT-2 systems. KOMPSAT-3 is capable of higher image resolution than KOMPSAT-1 and -2 and can provide high-resolution electro-optical (EO) images required for geographical information systems (GIS) and other environmental, agricultural and oceanographic monitoring applications. It will operate from a sun-synchronous orbit. KOMPSAT-3, which measures 2 meters in diameter and 3.5 meters in height, will be transported by ship from Korea to Tanegashima in Japan's Kagoshima Prefecture for launching by MHI's H-IIA launch vehicle at the Tanegashima Space Center of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Simultaneously launched by the same launch vehicle will be JAXA's GCOM-W (Global Change Observation Mission - Water), which is to undertake water-related observation from the sun-synchronous orbit.


On the night of 26 March 2015, Russian Strategic Missiles Forces conducted a successful launch of RS-20B missile (NATO reporting name Satan) from the launch base in the Orenburg region. The rocket delivered into orbit South Korean multi-purpose satellite Kompsat 3A. The satellite complemented the existing system of three multi-purpose satellites, including Kompsat 5 (Arirang-5). The satellite also completed the system of observations that allows to carry out round the clock monitoring of the Earth's surface under different weather conditions.


There is no KOMPSAT-4 Program. The Sino-Korean word for the number four, "sa" is a homonym of the Chinese character for death.


KOMPSAT-5, with an active sensor of Synthetic Aperture Radar, had a launch scheduleed for 2008. In March 2006 Alcatel Alenia Space signed a contract with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the Republic of South Korea Space Agency, to provide a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) payload system for KOMPSAT-5. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) has been used for mapping the surface geomorphology of cloudy planets like Venus as well as the Earth. The cloud-free Mars is also going to be scanned by SAR in order to detect buried water channels and other features under the very shallow subsurface of the ground. According to the 'Mid and Long-term National Space Development Plan' of Korea, SAR satellites, in addition to the EO (Electro-Optical) satellites, are supposed to be developed in the frame of the KOMPSAT (Korean Multi-Purpose Satellite) program. Feasibility of utilizing a SAR payload on KOMPSAT platform has been studied by KARI in collaboration with Astrium U.K. The purpose of the SAR program is Scientific and Civil applications on the Earth.



Korea is going to develop SAR satellites. According to the 'Mid and Long-term National Space Development Plan' (MOST 2000) of Korea, two SAR satellites are supposed to be developed among the eight KOMPSAT (Korean Multi-Purpose Satellite) satellites. They are KOMPSAT-5 in 2010 of launching year and KOMPSAT-7 in 2014.


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