Seoul, Sep 16 (EFE).- South Korea plans to launch its first solid-fuel space rocket by 2024, which will allow it to put small satellites into a low Earth orbit thereby improving its military surveillance capabilities, the defense ministry announced Thursday.
The ministry said that the state-run Agency for Defense Development had successfully conducted the combustion test of a solid-propellant engine for space rockets at its test site in the western city of Taean, located 100 kilometers southwest of Seoul, on July 29.
These plans are possible after Washington and Seoul agreed in May to revise bilateral missile guidelines to lift restrictions on South Korea’s use of solid fuel in their rockets.
This new development is expected to “greatly contribute to strengthening our space defense capabilities,” the ministry said in a statement, local news agency Yonhap reported.
South Korea is already preparing to launch its first indigenously developed and manufactured space rocket, Nuri, which uses liquid fuel engines, in October this year.
Solid fuel engines allow faster and easier charging, better storage and lower costs.
“Based on the technology we secured through the development of the liquid-propellant Nuri space rocket and the swift development of solid-fuel space rocket technologies, we will be able to take a step closer to becoming one of the world’s top seven countries with strong space capabilities” along with the United States, Russia, Europe, China, Japan and India, the ministry added.
This announcement comes on the heel of others in apparent response to the latest weapons tests by North Korea, which fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday and tested a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend.
Hours after the launch by North Korea on Wednesday, Seoul launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and said that it plans to develop stronger, longer-range and more precise ones.
This arms escalation comes as denuclearization dialogue has remained stalled since the failed Hanoi summit between North Korea and the United States in 2019 and after Pyongyang cut communications with Seoul in protest of joint military drills by South Korea and the US in August. EFE