By Hyunsu Yim,
Published by MSN, 4 December, 2023
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea on Monday successfully conducted a test flight of a solid-fuel space rocket over the sea near Jeju Island, the defence ministry said, amid a growing space race with neighbouring North Korea.
It was the third test of its kind following two others in December and March last year.
The launch involved technology developed at the state-run Agency for Defense Development and a space rocket and a satellite produced by South Korea’s Hanwha Systems , the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry hailed the launch as achieving a milestone at a time when Pyongyang recently launched a military spy satellite, which the United States and its allies have condemned for using missile technology contravening U.N. security resolution.
South Korea’s successful launch would accelerate the country’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the ministry said.
Monday’s test flight comes after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried South Korea’s first spy satellite into orbit on Friday from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Last month, North Korea launched its own military reconnaissance satellite, with leader Kim Jong Un receiving photos of White House, Pentagon and U.S. aircraft carriers at the naval base of Norfolk, according to state media.
A functioning reconnaissance satellite could give North Korea its first capability to remotely monitor U.S., South Korean, and Japanese troops. South Korea’s satellites would reduce its dependence on American intelligence systems.
Pyongyang has not released any imagery, however, leaving analysts and foreign governments to debate how capable the new satellite is and has defended satellite launches as part of its sovereign rights in response to criticism.
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