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November 22nd, 2013
South Korea Successfully Deploys an Infrared Radar Science Satellite

“The beacon signals picked up by the Svalbard station indicate the satellite, at least, has been successfully deployed into its target orbit,” said a KARI official at South Korea’s own satellite station in Daejeon, 150 kilometers south of Seoul.

Successful deployment of the satellite will be further confirmed when it establishes radio communication with the ground station in Daejeon in about six hours following its liftoff, KARI officials said earlier.

“The satellite has been successfully deployed from the launch vehicle, and the main computer of the satellite has now been turned on,” Lee Seung-woo, a KARI official in charge of the STSAT-3 program, told reporters.

The satellite was launched using Russia’s Dnepr, a ballistic missile-turned space launch vehicle. The STSAT-3 arrived here on Oct. 24.

Lee said Thursday’s launch itself has been successful with “not even a minor error.”

The STSAT-3 is South Korea’s first satellite with infrared radar that can detect changes in temperatures on the earth’s surface as well as underground, enabling it to monitor subterranean activities such as volcanoes and earthquakes. The satellite is also the country’s sixth satellite that has been developed and built indigenously.

The STSAT-3, together with the Korea Multipurpose Satellite-5 (KOMPSAT-5), will allow the country to forecast any geological events, such as earthquakes. The KOMPSAT-5 was the country’s first satellite with synthetic aperture radar, an advanced form of side-looking airborne radar that uses radio waves to detect changes in a target area, enabling 24-hour surveillance of the earth’s surface regardless of weather conditions.

The two satellites will also allow the country to detect any environmental or physical changes on the Korean Peninsula and in its surrounding seas.

The STSAT-3 is designed to orbit the earth once every 97 minutes at an altitude of 600 kilometers. It has an operational lifespan of two years.