South Korea is looking for a $553 million (640 billion won) yearly space budget for 2022 in order to foster the nascent domestic space sector. If fully implemented, it would represent a 4% increase over this year’s expenditure which is set at 615 billion won. Parliament will review the budget request of the government.
The Economy and Finance Ministry, which is in charge of the state budget planning, released its budget proposal for the space sector on September 2, stating that the nascent industry requires the government’s “active investment to develop its ecosystem.” The ministry recognized the space sector’s expansion potential by including it in a group of ten strategically essential industries that will receive significant public financing throughout next year, including semiconductors, bio-healthcare, quantum computing, future mobility, and 6G internet.
According to a document outlining the request, the majority of the money, 172.8 billion won, is going to go toward “developing and advancing the country’s indigenous space launch vehicle,” according to a document outlining the request.
While the KSLV-2, a 3-stage liquid-propellant rocket able of carrying up to 1,500 kg of payload to the low Earth orbit, is due to fly in October, the government has already begun work on a larger and more powerful rocket. According to the document, the 172.8 billion won is a small portion of 700 billion won that South Korea plans to invest in the development of the next-generation space launch vehicle by the year 2026.
In June, Kwon Hyun-joon, who is a senior official with the Ministry of Science and ICT’s Space, Nuclear, and Big Science Policy Bureau, said, “We are intending to create a next-generation vehicle for launching based on KSLV-2, competent of launching the [robotic] lunar orbiter on our own.” “Another idea we’re considering is creating a more innovative approach, for which we’ll have to start from scratch.”
The establishment of satellite navigation system that belongs to South Korea, known as the Korea Positioning System, is another key space project. The government has set up 84.5 billion won next year (KPS). The project will start next year and last 13 years. The government will spend 3.7 trillion won to launch eight satellites – three into the geosynchronous orbit and 5 into the inclined geosynchronous orbit.
Another major project is the launch of Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), the country’s first robotic lunar orbiter, for which the government plans to spend 19.8 billion won. The spacecraft will launch in August 2022 atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will spend a year imaging the moon. In a show of support, NASA provided the orbiter with a sophisticated lunar reconnaissance orbiter camera known as ShadowCam. In exchange, the KPLO will be tasked with locating water on the moon for NASA’s mission.