The new colonial movement: Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president since 2017, on March 25th gave his first speech focused on his nation’s goals in space, outlining plans to encourage private enterprise as well as achieving an unmanned mission to the Moon by 2030.
His speech listed three main programs. First, they are developing their own home-built rocket, dubbed the KSLV-2, which they hope to launch on its first orbital test flight by October of this year.
Second, he touted a project to send a probe to the asteroid Apophis in 2029. I described this probe in my November 2020 report on a science conference focused entirely on Apophis. If all goes well, they hope to have the probe fly in formation with the asteroid as it makes its close approach that year.
Third, he committed his nation to landing an unmanned lander on the Moon by the end of this decade. (Sound familiar?)
While much of this was the typical photo-op stuff that politicians love, designed mostly to enhance their public image, Moon did make it clear their goals are also to foster a new private aerospace industry that would compete in the emerging new space market.
Moon underscored the role of the private sector in enhancing Korea’s space development capabilities. To that end, he said, the government will step up efforts to build an “innovative industrial ecosystem that nurtures global space companies such as SpaceX.”
Another issue he put forth was strengthening international competitiveness of made-in-Korea satellite systems, in the lead-up to the introduction of 6G wireless networks, self-driving vehicles, and other products and services enabled or enhanced by satellites.
All-in-all, it is actually surprising that up to now South Korea has not made its presence felt in space. This announcement suggests they now intend to change that.
On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.
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