Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Satan' Launches South Korean Kompsat 3A Satellite into Orbit

Dnepr rocket carrying South Korea's new multipurpose satellite KOMSAT-3A is launched from Russia's Yasny launch base on March 26, 2015. (Photo courtesy of KARI)

International Space Company (ISC) Kosmotras has launched its Dnepr (RS-20 or SS-18 Satan) rocket from Yasny Launch Base, Orenburg region, Russia, on Mar. 26, 2015 at 03:08:46 local time (March 25, 2015 at 22:08:46 UTC)., carrying the Kompsat 3A satellite for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The launch was executed by the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Ministry of Defense with the support of the Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstan organizations, which are part of the ISC Kosmotras industrial team. "We may conclude that the launch and deployment of the Kompsat 3A have been successful following its successful communication with the country's ground station in Daejeon," Choi Seok-won, a KARI official in charge of the satellite program, said. The spacecraft has been inserted into its target orbit.

"The satellite separated from the carrier rocket in a routine regime," a source in the space sector told TASS.

A radio communication between the satellite and South Korea's ground station was established 5 hours and 57 minutes after its launch, according to officials from KARI.

Beacon signals from the 1,100-kilogram satellite were earlier picked up by Norway's Troll Satellite Station, then again by Svalbard Satellite Station in Norway, indicating the satellite has reached its target orbit.

The Kompsat 3A was sent into space on a Dnepr launch vehicle converted from a Soviet-era intercontinental ballistic missile.

Real-time observation of the launch was unavailable as the Russian launch pad remains off-limits to public access.

The science satellite is designed to complement South Korea's three other multipurpose science satellites that are currently operational.

The Kompsat 3A is equipped with an optical lens with the highest resolution so far on any South Korean satellite that can provide clear images of any object greater than 0.5 meter in diameter on the Earth's surface.

It is also equipped with an infrared sensor that can detect changes in temperature, enabling it to monitor any volcanic movements or forest fires.

Together with the Kompsat 5, the country's first science satellite with synthetic aperture radar launched in August 2013, the new satellite will help enable 24-hour monitoring of the Earth's surface regardless of weather conditions, KARI officials said.

The Kompsat 3A will circle the Earth approximately 15 times a day in a synchronous orbit for the next four years.

South Korea is planning to develop its own space launch vehicle for a test launch in 2019.

The Dnepr is a three-stage liquid-fueled rocket. Its first and second stages are used in the RS-20 ballistic missiles (SS-18 Satan). The company Kosmotras works on the modernization of RS-20B missiles developed in Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk. Launched are performed from the Baikonur space center and from the Orenburg region. Previous launch of the Dnepr rocket took place in November 2014.

According to Kosmotras, two more Dnepr launches are planned for 2015.

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