Space Situational Awareness

SUNGNAM, SOUTH KOREAN REPUBLIC – According to a senior air force commander, joint drills between the US Space Force and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force will focus on improving both sides’ space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities.

What does the Agreement say?

Under an agreement signed on August 27 at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, between ROK Air Force chief of staff Gen. Park In-ho and US Space Force Gen. John W. Raymond, commander of space operations, the ROK Air Force would conduct joint drills with the US Space Force.

During a military technology seminar held here on Oct. 20 as part of the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 2021, ROK Air Force Col. Park Ki-tae, inaugural chief of the air force’s Space Operations Center, said, “What we urgently need is ‘eyes’ to look at what’s happening in outer space.”

Park’s centre, which opened last month, is in charge of developing a strategic roadmap for the air force’s space capabilities.

Need for improving capabilities and potentials

“Improving our ability to identify dangerous objects in space is one of the key goals we hope to achieve through our collaboration with the US Space Force.” It also contains information on how to avoid them as they approach our satellites,” Park explained.

Improved capabilities will also allow the South Korean air force to send a timely warning when an item from orbit crashes to Earth, he said.

Once built, the technology will aid in the detection of malfunctioning satellites, high-altitude surveillance drones, and guided weapons systems. According to DAPA, this could be owing to GPS signal disturbances caused by space weather conditions.

The air force’s SSA capabilities have increased since 2017, according to Park, thanks to cooperative initiatives with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute. Being a part of the US Space Force’s drills will also help the colonel hone his edge in SSA.

Another area of cooperation between the two agencies, according to Park, is satellite navigation. By 2035, South Korea plans to create its own satellite navigation system, known as the Korea Positioning System (KPS), in collaboration with the US.

Contents of the System

The system will consist of eight satellites, three in geosynchronous orbit and five in inclined geosynchronous orbit, all of which will be compatible with the US Space Force’s existing GPS satellites.

While South Korea requires a variety of space launch vehicles to enable speedy and cost-effective satellite launches, Park believes an air-launched system is “especially vital given the country’s geographical peculiarities.”

South Korea is bordered on the north by North Korea, the west by China, and the east by Japan. The only way for the country to launch a space rocket from its soil without overflying its neighbors is to the south.

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