South Korea Unveils Ambitious Mars Mission and New Space Agency by 2045

South Korea Unveils Ambitious Mars Mission and New Space Agency by 2045

South Korea aims to achieve a Mars landing by 2045 and will invest 100 trillion won ($72.6 billion) in space exploration over the next two decades, President Yoon Suk Yeol announced on Thursday at the launch of the country’s first space agency. The Korea Aerospace Administration (KASA) will spearhead the country’s “space economy,” with hundreds of businesses and enterprises working together to elevate South Korea into the world’s top five space powers, Yoon stated.

South Korea Unveils Ambitious Mars Mission and New Space Agency by 2045

“KASA will usher in a new space era by cultivating experts while intensively supporting the aerospace industry ecosystem and fostering challenging and innovative R&D,” Yoon said. The country’s first lunar lander is scheduled for 2032.

In May last year, South Korea became the seventh country to develop and launch an indigenous space vehicle and satellite technology with the successful launch of the Nuri rocket, which placed a commercial-grade satellite into orbit.

KASA is designed to streamline policy and development functions that were previously shared among various government ministries. It will also incorporate the aerospace research institute responsible for the Nuri and its predecessor space launch vehicles.

South Korea plans at least three more space launches by 2027 and has ambitions to launch military satellites.

Yoon’s announcement underscores the increasing efforts of Asian nations to advance their space programs for practical purposes, such as improving rocket technology, and to bolster national pride.

On Monday, North Korea launched a rocket but failed to put its second military spy satellite into orbit, attributing the failure to a new type of engine. Nonetheless, one expert described the attempt as a “huge leap” for the heavily sanctioned country.

South Korea, Japan, and the United States condemned North Korea’s launch, citing violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting it from developing ballistic missile technology.

China‘s space program has advanced significantly, developing heavy-lift rockets such as the Long March 5, the Tiangong space station, unmanned moon probes, and the Zhurong rover that reached Mars in 2021.

In January, Japan became the fifth country to land a vehicle on the moon. Last year, India became the fourth nation to achieve a lunar landing, after Russia failed in an attempt the same month. Japan also plans a rover mission to Mars.

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