Pro­mot­ing space in­dus­try

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

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.

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