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South Korea and Satellite Communication Systems

South Korea's first two spacecraft were based on the UK's Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) microsatellite design. Kitsat 1 (aka Uribyol 1, 10 August 1992) and Kitsat 2 (aka Uribyol 2, 26 September 1993) were carried as piggyback passengers on Ariane flights to LEO. Although neither of the spacecraft were true communications satellites, both were equipped with a modest store-and-forward messaging capability (References 374-377).

The long-range goal of South Korea is to develop its own spacecraft. A step in this direction was taken with Kitsat 2, which was assembled in South Korea from UK components. The next step is the much delayed, dual-purpose Kompsat. Relying heavily on a TRW spacecraft bus and engineering expertise, South Korea would assist in the design and manufacture of Kompsat which would perform remote sensing as well as serve as a communications relay. The 400-kg spacecraft would be inserted into a 685-km, sun-synchronous orbit in 1998 or 1999 (References 378-382). South Korea has discussed a similar venture with the PRC (References 383-385).

KOREASAT / Mugunghwa

The Korea Telecom lead and commercial telecommunications and broadcasting satellite program. Lockheed Martin manufactured KOREASAT 1, 2, and 3 with South Korean subcontractors. Unable to construct its own GEO communications spacecraft, South Korea contracted with Lockheed-Martin for two 3000 series satellites to be launched in 1995. The Koreasat (aka Mugunghwa) spacecraft have a mass of about 830 kg on station and would carry 15 Kuband transponders of which three would be highpower (120 W). Both spacecraft were to be positioned at 116 degrees E with expected design lives of 10 years. KOREASAT is the first geostationary communication and broadcasting satellite of the country. The primary purpose of the communication satellite project is to prepare proactively for the upcoming age of competition in space development in the twenty-first century, with a view to delivering advanced telecommunication services, including wide-band, high-speed voice and images to the general public, to lay the groundwork for the nation to enter the world space market, to push the nation into the rank of technologically advanced nations and to utilize the satellite orbit effectively.

KOREASAT-1 - was launched in August 1995 but experienced a partial failure. The Koreasat-1, 2, and 3 satellites were manufactured by Lockheed Martin with Korean subcontractors. In the case of Koreasat-1 and 2 Korean participation consisted of LG Information and Communications (LGIC), which provided ground station equipment and communications system monitoring, and tracking, telemetry and command systems, while Korean Air supplied solar array substrates and the central structure of the satellites.

KOREASAT-2 - was launched in January 1996. The payload consisted of 12 Fixed Satellite Service transponders that are used for general communications and 3 Direct Broadcasting Services transponders. The program involved upgrading existing systems and capabilities.

KOREASAT-3 - was launched in September 1999 and is configured to provide both fixed and direct broadcast services. It is fitted with a steerable antenna to improve coverage capability. In addition to providing the satellite, the program also involved upgrading existing ground systems. KOREASAT-3 was launched into a geosynchronous orbit on 5 September 1999. Its major goal is to enhance the level of localization significantly, based on the technologies accumulated through the development of KOREASAT-1 and -2. The improvement of various service qualities was also expected from the KOREASAT-3 payload capabilities. The most dramatic differences with Koreasat-3 are the provision of 3 Ka-band transponders providing 55.0 dBW EIRP. There are also 24 Ku-band transponders for fixed satellite service and 6 Ku-band transponders for direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services. This doubles the capacity of the first two Koreasats. There is, in addition to Ka-band coverage of the entire Korean Peninsula (North and South Korea), a broadly regional Ku-band beam covering all of Southeast Asia including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a 3 degree beam that could cover much of India, the most densely populated portions of China, or Japan. Koreasat-3 was based on the Lockheed Martin A2100 bus and payload, and is to be launched by an Ariane launch vehicle in August 1999 to a geosynchronous orbit at 116 degrees E. It will have a 12 year projected lifetime plus 3 years of extended life. Koreasat-1 was launched on a Delta II on August 30, 1995, and Koreasat-2 was launched on a Delta II on January 16, 1996. These two satellites, currently located at 116 degrees, are to be repositioned to 113 degrees when Koreasat-3 is deployed.

KOREASAT-4 - There was no KoreaSat 4, because the number four may be associated with death in some Asian cultures, as it has the same sound as the Chinese character for 'death.'. As of 1997 KT was planning for the possibility of Koreasat-4. Satellite characteristics, its intended market, and the range of projected services were still under evaluation. It is possible that KT might instead consider such options as joining in partnership with one of the proposed new global Ka-band satellite systems, deploying one or more high altitude long endurance platforms (not currently a prime option until this technology is proven), or decide to rely on terrestrial fiber optic cable or wireless LMDS technology. It seems clear that in the new competitive market, KT would need to establish a much stronger market case to proceed and that it will be more reluctant to spend freely for R&D at ETRI, KARI or elsewhere, i.e., its current expenditure of 7% of revenues on research may be forced downward.

KOREASAT-5 - Sea Launch successfully completed the Koreasat 5 mission on August 21, 2006. A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off from the Odyssey Launch Platform at 8:27 pm PDT (3:27 GMT on Aug. 22). All phases of the flight profile performed as expected. The mission ended with spacecraft separation from the Block DM upper stage, placing the Koreasat 5 communications satellite into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. A ground station in Fucino, Italy, acquired the spacecraft signal shortly after spacecraft separation. Built by Alcatel Alenia Space in Cannes, France, this new generation Spacebus 4000 C1 platform is fitted with the Avionique 4000 avionics system and accommodates 36 transponders in multi-band frequencies to meet its multi-mission objectives. South Korea operates a dual-use communications satellite, Koreasat 5 (Mugungwha 5), launched in 2006. The payload reported carries 12 military relay terminals and 24 commercial terminals, with military coverage from the Malacca Strait to the central Pacific Ocean areas. A hybrid spacecraft designed for a 15-year service life, Koreasat 5 is owned jointly by the Agency for Defense Development of Korea and KT Corporation. It is located in geostationary orbit at 113 degrees East Longitude as part of South Korea's new high-capacity Spacecom System. The Agency for Defense Development has managed the military side of the Koreasat 5 program and the Joint Chief of Staff of Korean Armed Forces operate the SHF and Ka band transponders on the spacecraft to provide satellite communications services. KT Corporation operate 24 Ku band transponders. Half of these were switched to regional beams to provide advanced broadband multimedia and digital television transmission services, as well as conventional telecom services to operators in the Asia-Pacific region. The remaining 12 Ku band transponders replace Koreasat 2 capacity for domestic use in South Korea. Based in Seoul, KT Corporation (KT) was established in 1981 by the Korean Government and later privatized as a public corporation in 2002.

KOREASAT-5A - Koreasat 5A will be loaded with 20 Ku-band transponders (54 MHz each), 12 Ku-band transponders (36 MHz each), and 4 extended Ku-band (54 MHz each) steerable transponders at 113E. The satellite will be built based on Spacebus 4000B2 platform, and will have payload power of around 7kW. It was scheduled to launch in 4Q of 2016, as a replacement of Koreasat 5. Koreasat 5A will expand KT SATs capabilities to provide DTH broadcasting and other communications services in Korea, Japan, Philippines, Guam, Indochina, and South Asia. The global multi-satellite coverage will also be improved for maritime areas from East Asia to East Africa with Ku-band,

as well as Asia and the Middle East with steerable Extended Ku-band capacity.

KOREASAT-6 - On May 14, 2008 Thales Alenia Space announced that it had signed a contract with Korea Telecom (KT) to provide their next telecommunication satellite, Koreasat 6. For this contract, Thales Alenia Space teamed with U.S manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) who would provide satellite platform. As prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space would have overall responsibility for design, manufacturing and test of the Koreasat 6 satellite and Ground Segment, as well as Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP), In-Orbit Test (IOT) support and associated services. Thales Alenia Space would procure Orbital's small sized GEO platform, STAR-2, and would manufacture the communications payload. Designed for 15 years lifetime, Koreasat 6 satellite would have 30 active Ku-band transponders with 2750 kg launch mass, and 3.4 kW payload power. The satellite, scheduled to be launched late 2010, would be positioned at 116 degrees East and would provide broadcasting and telecommunications services over Korea. After succesfully reaching orbit 29 December 2010, the satellite was renamed Olleh 1.

KOREASAT-7 - On 12 May 2014, Thales Alenia Space announced that it has signed a contract with the Korean satellite service operator KT Sat, subsidiary of KT Corporation, to build two telecommunications satellites, Koreasat-7 and Koreasat-5A, winning the contract against an international field of competitors. The two satellites will provide Internet access, multimedia, broadcasting and fixed communications services. As program prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space is in charge of the design, production, testing and On Ground Delivery (OGD) of the satellites. It will also take charge of the launch campaigns, the launch and early operations phase (LEOP) and in-orbit tests (IOT). Built on the Upgraded Spacebus 4000B2 platform from Thales Alenia Space, Koreasat-7 will be fitted with Ku-band transponders and Ka-band transponders. Koreasat-5A will carry Ku-band transponders. Koreasat-7's coverage zone encompasses Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and India, while Koreasat-5A will cover Korea, Japan, Indochina and the Middle East. Each satellite will weigh about 3,500 kg at launch and will offer payload power of about 7 kW. Koreasat-7 will be positioned at 116 East and will be scheduled for launch in 4Q of 2016.

KOREASAT-8 - Koreasat-8 has 4 high power Ku-band transponders and 8 C-band transponders. It is positioned at 75E. The satellite was manufactured by Space Systems/Loral (SSL) and was launched aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle by Arianespace in February, 2014. Koreasat-8 is a multi-mission C and Ku-band satellite, which is designed to provide multiple services including direct-to-home and cable television distribution, VSAT services, data networks, and telecommunications services across Southeast Asia and the Sub Saharan Africa region.

As of 2014, KTSAT operated 3 satellites: Koreasat 5, Koreasat 6, and Koreasat 8. The Koreasat fleet covered the Korean peninsula, the Philippines, and Northeast Asia with Ku-band. It also covers Africa and Eastern Asia with C-band. As a global service provider, KTSAT intends to expand its overseas business through different types of cooperative initiatives. KTSAT led the Korean satellite industry by providing satellite services and solutions, such as transponder leases, DTH, and VSAT services.


  • 374. Yonhap News Agency, 10 August 1992 and 3 October 1992.
  • 375. R. Riccitiello, "Kitsat-A Launch Is First Step for Korean Space Program", Space News, 24-30 August 1992, p.10.
  • 376. "South Korea Set for Launch No. 2", Spaceflight, July 1993, p. 246.
  • 377. Yonhap News Agency, 27 September 1993.
  • 378. A. Lawler, "South Korea Plans To Build, Launch Satellites", Space News, 28 May - 3 June 1990, pp. 1, 20.
  • 379. Y. Lee, "South Korea, Taiwan Gear Up To Enter Satellite Era", Space News, 24-30 September 1990, p. 7.
  • 380. W. Boyer, "TRW Wins Bid To Develop Korea Multipurpose Satellite", Space News, 19-25 September 1994 p. 8.
  • 381. "TRW Close To Korean Satellite Pact", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 19 September 1994, p.19.
  • 382. Via Satellite, June 1995, p.12.
  • 383. "South Korea and China May Team Up To Develop Regional Comsat", Space FAX Daily, 22 October 1993, p. 1.
  • 384. "Seoul, Beijing Cement Joint Satellite Deal", Space FAX Daily, 8 November 1993, p. 1.
  • 385. T. Kiernan, "South Korea, China To Create Joint Satellite Project", Space News, 31 January - 6 February 1994, p.16.
  • 386. T. Kiernan, "South Korea Seeks Economic Stimulus From Satellites", Space News, 14-20 September 1992, p.28.
  • 387. "Newsmaker Forumn, Space News, 12-18 April 1993, p. 22.
  • Adapted from: Europe and Asia in Space 1993-1994, Nicholas Johnson and David Rodvold [Kaman Sciences / Air Force Phillips Laboratory]

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