Promoting space industry
Shift to private initiative goes in right direction South Korea has taken the first step toward joining the ranks of space powers in the past few weeks.
On Nov. 28, the nation tested “Nuri,” a 75-ton thrust booster engine that was launched from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province. The rocket engine, designed and developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), will be used on the three-stage Korea Space Launch Vehicle-2 (KSLV-2).
A week later, Chollian 2, the country’s first indigenous geostationary satellite, lifted off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, aboard a launch vehicle made by Arianespace. The recent successful launches have boosted Korea’s hopes of entering the global commercial space market.
Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Science and ICI proposed Thursday to change the nation’s space development from state-led to a private sector-centered project.
So far, KARI, a state-run research organ, has directly developed satellites and space launch vehicles or commissioned the job to private businesses. From now on, the government will hand the overall initiative to the private sector. Given the global trends in which the industry’s leadership is shifting from the public to the private sector, the government is going in the right direction.
The policy change, of course, is intended to lay the foundation for a space industry led by private businesses. In most advanced countries, too, the industry’s initiatives are rapidly shifting from governments to private companies. The global market size is also likely to expand from $350 billion last year to at least $1.1 trillion in 2040.
Among such corporate frontrunners abroad are SpaceX, which has developed reusable rockets, WinWeb, which provides internet services by launching “constellation” satellites, and Blue Origin, which has launched a space travel service.
Korea has long been a global powerhouse in some manufacturing industries such as automobiles and shipbuilding, but it is little more than a toddler in the aerospace sector. We hope the recent switch of the initiative in the national space program will also help the country emerge as a global power in space exploration.