South Korea celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first step into a space adventure. On August 11, 1992, it successfully launched its first satellite called “Wooribyul-1” (KITSAT-1) meaning “Our Star Number 1” aboard an Ariane rocket on the Kourou space base in French Guiana.
Wooribyul-1 was developed by the Satellite Research Technology Center (SatRec), attached to KAIST, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, in collaboration with the British University of Surrey. It is a small satellite that weighs 48.6 kg and is 35.2 cm wide, 35.6 cm long and 67 cm high. At an altitude of 1300 km, it orbited the Earth completely every 110 minutes. his mission? Photograph the surface of our planet, transmit audio and video data, among other things. Its launch laid the cornerstone of space science in South Korea. Then the morning light land launched “Wooribyul-2” of its own technology in September 1993 and “Wooribyul-3” with a weight of 100 kg in May 1999.
South Korea continued its adventure with the launch of its first telecommunications satellite called “KOREASAT-1” in 1995, the multi-purpose “Arirang” (KOMPSAT-1) four years later, and astronomical observations (STSAT-1) in 2003. Bonus Moreover, with the launch of “Chollian” in 2010, it became the seventh country to have its own meteorological satellite and the first country in the world to have a fixed marine observation satellite. But these packages were all carried by a foreign missile.
In 2013, a new step was taken. South Korea has successfully launched the first “Naro-1” missile developed in partnership with Russia. Last June, it successfully orbited a 162.5-kg performance verification satellite and a 1.3-ton dummy satellite aboard its Nuri rocket (KSLV-II) with 100% “Made in Korea” technologies. Thus, it became the seventh country to have such an independent capacity. Finally, on August 5, it successfully launched its first lunar probe KPLO, more commonly known as “Danuri”, from the United States. It is the seventh country to face such a challenge.
Wooribyul-1 has been in operation for 12 years. It ensured its last contact with the ground station in August 2004. It is still navigating its geostationary orbit due to not being used. KAIST’s SatRec plans to re-enter the atmosphere to recover it. It will be an opportunity to test key technologies in space exploration, such as orbit correction, interplanetary rendezvous, and close flight, as well as to develop the knowledge needed to dispose of space waste.
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