Encyclopedia Astronautica
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Korea South

S Korean LVs

S Korean LVs
South Korean indigneous rockets.
Credit: © Mark Wade

South Korea became familiar with large-scale rocketry through maintenance and modification activities on American-supplied Honest John and Nike Hercules tactical missiles. By the 1990's Korea had developed an independent capability to manufacture solid propellant rocket motors of up to one metric ton mass. In 1990 KARI was funded to build the first indigenous sounding rockets, flown as the KSR-I and KSR-II. In December 1997 KARI was allowed to proceed with development of liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket motor for an orbital launcher, but this was abandoned when the South Korean government decided it wanted to be among the top ten spacefaring nations by 2015. The existing program was too limited in growth potential to allow that. Therefore it was decided to leapfrog the technology by contracting with Russian companies. First launch of the KSLV-I launch vehicle from the new space center took place in 2010.

South Korean soldiers became familiar with large-scale rocketry through maintenance and modification activities on American-supplied Honest John and Nike Hercules tactical missiles. By the 1990's Korea had developed an independent capability to manufacture solid propellant rocket motors of up to one metric ton mass. The first military application was a Korean modification of the Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile. A new Korean-made monolithic booster stage was introduced, which, together with a modified guidance system, produced a surface-to-surface missile of around 400 km range.

In 1990 KARI was funded to build the first indigenous sounding rocket, using a solid motor of roughly the same weight but a more slender aspect ration and longer burn time. One and two-stage versions of the rocket were flown in the 1990's as the KSR-I and KSR-II. In December 1997 KARI was allowed to proceed with development of liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket motor of 12.5 metric tons thrust. This was the same size as that built for the American Vanguard, and the intent was to build a minim satellite launch vehicle. A single test launch of the planned modular booster stage took place as the KSR-III in 2002. It was then planned to launch a satellite booster by 2005, but the South Korean government decided it wanted to be among the top ten spacefaring nations by 2015, and the existing program was too limited in growth potential to allow that.

Therefore it was decided to leapfrog the technology by contracting with Russian companies to assist in building a new space launch center at Doheung on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, together with a large space launch vehicle based on the Khrunichev Angara modular booster. This multi-billion dollar program got underway with some indirection in 2004. First launch of the KSLV-I launch vehicle from the new space center was scheduled for 2007, with completion of the spaceport and launch of a 1500 kg South Korean satellite into sun-synchronous orbit by 2015.

People: Ko San, Yi Soyeon. Spacecraft: Oscar, SSTL-70, AS 3000, Kitsat, AS 2100, Star bus, KOMPSAT, Cubesat, STSat, Spacebus 4000, Eurostar 3000, KOMPSAT-2, Arirang. Launch Vehicles: Thor, R-7, R-14, UR-100N, Ariane, SSM Korea, KSR, KSR-I, PSLV, Taurus, Ariane 5, KSR-II, KSR-III, KSLV-I 2002, KSLV, Naro-1, KSLV-II, KSLV-III, Hyunmoo-2B. Projects: Koreasat. Launch Sites: Taean, Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, Baikonur, Mace South Korea, Plesetsk, Tanegashima, Kourou, Sriharikota, Anhueng, Kiritimati, Dombarovskiy, Goheung. Stages: KSR-3, KSR-1. Agency: ISRO, Surrey, Arianespace, KAIST, KARI, KT, Lockheed, Ale.


Photo Gallery

S Korean LVsS Korean LVs
South Korean space launch vehicles, including Russian Angara-derived vehicles.
Credit: © Mark Wade



1976 October 19 - .
  • Birth of Ko San - . Nation: Korea South. Related Persons: Ko San. Korean scientist cosmonaut, 2006-2008..

1978 June 2 - .
  • Birth of Yi So-yeon - . Nation: Korea South. Related Persons: Yi Soyeon. Korean engineer cosmonaut. Flew on ISS EP-14. First Korean in space..

1992 August 10 - . 23:08 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA2. LV Family: Ariane. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 42P.
  • Oscar 23 - . Payload: Kitsat-A. Mass: 50 kg (110 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KAIST. Manufacturer: Surrey. Program: Oscar. Class: Communications. Type: Amateur radio communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: SSTL-70. Spacecraft: SSTL-70. USAF Sat Cat: 22077 . COSPAR: 1992-052B. Apogee: 1,322 km (821 mi). Perigee: 1,310 km (810 mi). Inclination: 66.1000 deg. Period: 111.90 min. Korean's first satellite achieved via a technology transfer programme with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. Carried store and forward communications, DSP and Earth observation payloads. Still operational in 2000..

1993 June 4 - . Launch Site: Anhueng. LV Family: KSR. Launch Vehicle: KSR-I.
  • Ozone profile mission - . Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Apogee: 39 km (24 mi). Ultraviolet radiometer to measure vertical ozone distribution in the stratosphere over the Korean peninsula. Rocket performance also monitored..

1993 September 1 - . Launch Site: Anhueng. LV Family: KSR. Launch Vehicle: KSR-I.
  • Ozone profile mission - . Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Apogee: 49 km (30 mi). Ultraviolet radiometer to measure vertical ozone distribution in the stratosphere over the Korean peninsula. Rocket performance also monitored..

1993 September 26 - . 01:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA2. LV Family: Ariane. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 40.
  • Kitsat-2 - . Payload: Oscar 25. Mass: 49 kg (108 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KAIST. Program: Oscar. Class: Communications. Type: Amateur radio communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Kitsat. Spacecraft: Kitsat. USAF Sat Cat: 22825 . COSPAR: 1993-061C. Apogee: 801 km (497 mi). Perigee: 790 km (490 mi). Inclination: 98.3000 deg. Period: 100.80 min.

    KITSAT-OSCAR 25 was a South Korean experimental microsatellite based on the SSTL UoSAT bus built by the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). KO-25 was operated from The Satellite Technology Research Center (SaTReC) in South Korea. KO-25's mission was to take CCD pictures, process numerical information, measure radiation, and receive and forward messages. The Infrared Sensor Experiment (IREX) was designed to acquire I/V characteristics of IR sensors. A passive cooling structure was devised for this experiment. KO-25 was eventually operated purely as a packet store-and-forward satellite.


1994 September 19 - .
  • Kompsat contract - . Nation: Korea South. Spacecraft Bus: KOMPSAT. Spacecraft: KOMPSAT. TRW and Korean engineers would work together to develop the spacecraft. KOMPSAT was based on TRW's Eagle class of light weight, modular spacecraft..

1995 August 5 - . 11:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Thor. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7925. FAILURE: Partial Failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Mugunghwa 1 - . Payload: Koreasat 1. Mass: 1,459 kg (3,216 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KT. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Program: Koreasat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: AS 3000. Spacecraft: AS 3000. USAF Sat Cat: 23639 . COSPAR: 1995-041A. Apogee: 35,796 km (22,242 mi). Perigee: 35,776 km (22,230 mi). Inclination: 2.7000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min.

    15 Ku-band transponders; boosted into geosynch orbit by satellite thrusters following Delta failure that left satellite in LEO; unplanned use of satellite propellant cut usable satellite lifetime by approx. 50 percent. Stationed at 116.0 deg E. Stage 1 SRM failure Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 116 deg E in 1995-1999 As of 5 September 2001 located at 47.22 deg E drifting at 0.022 deg E per day. As of 2007 Mar 9 located at 152.88E drifting at 2.155W degrees per day.


1996 January 14 - . 11:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Thor. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7925.
  • Koreasat 2 - . Mass: 600 kg (1,320 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KT. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Program: Koreasat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: AS 3000. Spacecraft: AS 3000. Completed Operations Date: 2000-04-08 . USAF Sat Cat: 23768 . COSPAR: 1996-003A. Apogee: 35,792 km (22,240 mi). Perigee: 35,782 km (22,233 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.20 min. Geostationary at 116.0E. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 116 deg E in 1996-2000 As of 5 September 2001 located at 113.02 deg E drifting at 0.017 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 11 located at 116.35E drifting at 0.013W degrees per day..

1997 July 9 - . Launch Site: Anhueng. LV Family: KSR. Launch Vehicle: KSR-II.
  • X-ray astronomy / ionosphere mission - . Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi). Measured the vertical distribution of ozone using an ultraviolet radiometer..

1998 June 11 - . 01:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Anhueng. LV Family: KSR. Launch Vehicle: KSR-II.
  • X-ray astronomy / ionosphere mission - . Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Apogee: 137 km (85 mi). Measured the vertical distribution of ozone using an ultraviolet radiometer..

1999 May 26 - . 06:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Sriharikota. Launch Complex: Sriharikota PSLV. LV Family: PSLV. Launch Vehicle: PSLV.
  • Kitsat-3 - . Mass: 50 kg (110 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: ISRO. Manufacturer: KAIST. Class: Earth. Type: Seismology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Kitsat. Spacecraft: Kitsat. USAF Sat Cat: 25756 . COSPAR: 1999-029A. Apogee: 727 km (451 mi). Perigee: 707 km (439 mi). Inclination: 98.6000 deg. Period: 99.10 min.

1999 September 4 - . 22:34 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA2. LV Family: Ariane. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 42P.
  • Koreasat 3 / Mugunghwa 3 - . Payload: A2100A. Mass: 2,790 kg (6,150 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KT. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Program: Koreasat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: AS 2100. Spacecraft: AS 2100. USAF Sat Cat: 25894 . COSPAR: 1999-046A. Apogee: 35,792 km (22,240 mi). Perigee: 35,782 km (22,233 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min.

    Geosynchronous communications satellite. Stationed at 112 deg E. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 112 deg E in 1999. As of 31 August 2001 located at 115.99 deg E drifting at 0.014 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 10 located at 116.12E drifting at 0.008W degrees per day.


1999 December 21 - . 07:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg 576E. LV Family: Taurus. Launch Vehicle: Taurus 2110.
  • Kompsat - . Payload: Arirang. Mass: 470 kg (1,030 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Manufacturer: KAIST. Class: Earth. Type: Sea satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KOMPSAT. Spacecraft: KOMPSAT. USAF Sat Cat: 26032 . COSPAR: 1999-070A. Apogee: 677 km (420 mi). Perigee: 670 km (410 mi). Inclination: 97.8000 deg. Period: 98.20 min.

    Korean Multipurpose Satellite; carried an ocean color sensor developed by TRW and particle detectors. KOMPSAT was built by the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) based on a test model built by TRW; it used the TRW STEP Lightsat bus and had a mass of around 500 kg, with 73 kg of hydrazine fuel.


2002 November 28 - . 05:52 GMT - . Launch Site: Anhueng. LV Family: KSR. Launch Vehicle: KSR-III.
  • KSR-III Launch Vehicle Technology Test / Aeronomy mission - . Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Apogee: 43 km (26 mi).

    The rocket reached 42 km altitude and a speed of 902 meters per second. It impacted in the West Sea 85 km from the coastal launch site, 231 seconds after launch. In preparation for the launch, KARI and related agencies successfully carried out ignition tests in May and August.


2003 September 27 - . 06:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC132/1. LV Family: R-14. Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 11K65M.
  • STSat 1 (KaistSat 4, Uribyol 4) - . Mass: 100 kg (220 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KAIST. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: STSat. Spacecraft: STSat. USAF Sat Cat: 27939 . COSPAR: 2003-042A. Apogee: 696 km (432 mi). Perigee: 676 km (420 mi). Inclination: 98.2000 deg. Period: 98.50 min. Launch delayed from July 28, September 26. Payloads included the FUV Imaging Spectrograph (FIMS); Solid State Telescope (SST); Data Collection System (DCS); and Narrow Angle Star Sensor (NAST)..

2006 July 28 - . 07:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC133/3. LV Family: UR-100N. Launch Vehicle: Rokot.
  • Kompsat 2 - . Payload: Arirang-2. Mass: 798 kg (1,759 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Manufacturer: EADS Astrium. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KOMPSAT-2. Spacecraft: KOMPSAT-2. USAF Sat Cat: 29268 . COSPAR: 2006-031A. Apogee: 701 km (435 mi). Perigee: 676 km (420 mi). Inclination: 98.1000 deg. Period: 98.50 min. Carried a 1-meter-resolution Earth surveillance camera...

2006 August 22 - . 03:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Kiritimati. Launch Pad: 0.0 N x 154.0 W. Launch Platform: Odyssey. LV Family: Zenit. Launch Vehicle: Zenit-3SL.
  • Koreasat 5 - . Payload: Mugunghwa 5, Spacebus 4000C1. Mass: 4,465 kg (9,843 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KT. Manufacturer: Alenia. Program: Koreasat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Spacebus 4000. Spacecraft: Spacebus 4000. USAF Sat Cat: 29349 . COSPAR: 2006-034A. Apogee: 35,795 km (22,241 mi). Perigee: 35,780 km (22,230 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.20 min. The satellite will was to provide Ku-band service for Korea Telecom and Ka-band and SHF band transponders for the South Korean Agency for Defense Development. As of 2007 Mar 11 located at 113.05E drifting at 0.012W degrees per day..

2009 August 25 - . 08:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Goheung. LV Family: Angara. Launch Vehicle: Naro-1. FAILURE: First and second stages operated correctly, but half of payload fairing failed to separate. Extra mass prevented the second stage and payload from reaching orbital velocity, and the satellite reentered over New Guinea..
2010 June 10 - . 18:01 GMT - . Launch Site: Goheung. LV Family: Angara. Launch Vehicle: Naro-1. FAILURE: First stage failure..
  • STSAT-2B - . Mass: 99 kg (218 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: KARI. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: STSat. Spacecraft: STSAT. Science and Technology Satellite with Lyman-alpha imaging solar telescope and laser altimeter..

2010 June 26 - . 21:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA3. LV Family: Ariane 5. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5ECA.
  • Coms 1 - . Mass: 2,400 kg (5,200 lb). Nation: Korea South. Agency: Arianespace. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Eurostar 3000. Spacecraft: Eurostar 3000. USAF Sat Cat: 36744 . COSPAR: 2010-032A. Apogee: 35,789 km (22,238 mi). Perigee: 35,783 km (22,234 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min. Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite. Weather, oceanography, and communications payloads..

2010 December 29 - . 21:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA3. LV Family: Ariane 5. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5ECA.
  • Koreasat 6 - . Payload: Star-2. Mass: 2,850 kg (6,280 lb). Nation: Korea South. Program: Koreasat. Class: Communications. Type: Communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Star bus. Spacecraft: Star bus. USAF Sat Cat: 37265 . COSPAR: 2010-070B. Apogee: 35,827 km (22,261 mi). Perigee: 35,783 km (22,234 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,437.00 min. Ku band communications; 2850 kg loaded / 1150 kg unfuelled..

2012 May 17 - . 16:39 GMT - . Launch Site: Tanegashima. Launch Complex: Tanegashima Y. LV Family: H-2. Launch Vehicle: H-IIA 202.
  • Arirang-3 - . Payload: Kompsat-3. Mass: 800 kg (1,760 lb). Nation: Korea South. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KOMPSAT. Spacecraft: Kompsat. USAF Sat Cat: 38338 . COSPAR: 2012-025B. Apogee: 677 km (420 mi). Perigee: 665 km (413 mi). Inclination: 98.1000 deg. Period: 98.20 min. South Korean imaging satellite..

2013 January 30 - . 07:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Goheung. LV Family: Angara. Launch Vehicle: Naro-1.
  • STSat-2C - . Mass: 90 kg (198 lb). Nation: Korea South. Class: Earth. Type: Geodetic satellite. Spacecraft Bus: STSat. Spacecraft: STSat. USAF Sat Cat: 39068 . COSPAR: 2013-003A. Apogee: 1,464 km (909 mi). Perigee: 295 km (183 mi). Inclination: 80.2700 deg. Period: 102.56 min. First indigenously-launched South Korean satellite; first successful launch of KSLV-III launch vehicle..

2013 April 19 - . 10:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC31. Launch Pad: LC31/6. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-2-1A.
  • OSSI-1 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Korea South. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2013-07-08 . USAF Sat Cat: 39131 . COSPAR: 2013-015B. Apogee: 348 km (216 mi). Perigee: 218 km (135 mi). Inclination: 64.8600 deg. Period: 90.17 min. Cubesat developed by a Korean artist..

2013 August 22 - . 14:39 GMT - . Launch Site: Dombarovskiy. Launch Pad: Yasniy Sh370/13. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: Dnepr.
  • Arirang-5 - . Payload: Kompsat-5. Mass: 1,400 kg (3,000 lb). Nation: Korea South. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KOMPSAT. Spacecraft: Kompsat. USAF Sat Cat: 39227 . COSPAR: 2013-042A. Apogee: 560 km (340 mi). Perigee: 545 km (338 mi). Inclination: 97.6000 deg. Period: 95.70 min. South Korea's first X-band SAR satellite..

2013 November 21 - . 07:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Dombarovskiy. Launch Pad: xxx. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: Dnepr.
  • STSat-3 - . Mass: 170 kg (370 lb). Nation: Korea South. Class: Astronomy. Type: Astronomy satellite. Spacecraft Bus: STSat. Spacecraft: STSat. USAF Sat Cat: 39422 . COSPAR: 2013-066G. Apogee: 622 km (386 mi). Perigee: 591 km (367 mi). Inclination: 97.7800 deg. Period: 96.83 min.

    Satellite built by KAIST of South Korea, with the MIRIS infrared astronomy experiment (an 8 cm telescope operating at 0.9-2 microns with a 4 degree field of view for spectroscopy of diffuse extended emission), as well as earth imaging and technology payloads.


2014 March 23 - . Launch Site: Taean. LV Family: Hyunmoo-2B. Launch Vehicle: Hyunmoo-2B.
  • Hyunmoo RV - . Nation: Korea South. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi). Missile test.

2015 March 25 - . 22:08 GMT - . Launch Site: Dombarovskiy. Launch Complex: Yasniy Sh370/13. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: Dnepr.
  • Arirang-3A - . Payload: KOMPSAT 3A. Mass: 800 kg (1,760 lb). Nation: Korea South. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KOMPSAT. Spacecraft: Kompsat. USAF Sat Cat: 40536 . COSPAR: 2015-014A. Apogee: 538 km (334 mi). Perigee: 522 km (324 mi). Inclination: 97.5300 deg. Period: 95.23 min. South Korean imaging satellite with submeter resolution. Sun synchronous orbit; 0130 GMT local time of the descending node..

2015 June 3 - . Launch Site: Anhueng. LV Family: Hyunmoo-2B. Launch Vehicle: Hyunmoo-2B.
  • RV - . Nation: Korea South. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi). Test flight..


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