Korea to cancel satellite launch contract with Russia

Bomi Yoon

This rendered image shows the Korea Multipurpose Satellite 6, also known as the Arirang 6. The science ministry said, Monday, that two satellites, including the Arirang 6, were scheduled to be launched on Russian rockets, but the war between Russia and Ukraine made the launch impossible, so it is in the process of terminating its satellite launch contract with Russia. Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Research Institute

By Baek Byung-yeul

Korea is in the process of terminating a satellite launch contract with Russia as the scheduled launch of its two satellites has become almost impossible due to international sanctions against Russia following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, the science ministry said Monday.

“The Korea Multipurpose Satellite 6 and the next-generation mid-size satellite Compact Advanced Satellite 500-2, both developed by Korea, were initially scheduled to be launched into space using Russian launch vehicles, but due to the war between Russia and Ukraine and the subsequent international sanctions against Russia, there were uncontrollable circumstances that prevented the use of Russian launch vehicles,” the Ministry of Science and ICT said in a statement.

“Since then, Korea has been negotiating with Russia on the terms of termination of the satellite launch contract and it is currently being finalized.”

The ministry said it has completed negotiations regarding the termination of the contract for the Korea Multipurpose Satellite 6, dubbed the Arirang 6, and is in the final stages of terminating the launch contract for the Compact Advanced Satellite 500-2.

“It is difficult to disclose details of the contracts, but the ministry can say that the negotiations have been conducted in consideration of national interests under the given conditions,” the science ministry said.

Originally scheduled for launch in the second half of 2022, the two satellites will be launched on alternative rockets.

The Arirang 6 will be launched by European aerospace company Arianespace’s Vega-C rocket as early as December 2024. For the Compact Advanced Satellite 500-2, the ministry said it has a preferred bidder for an alternative launch vehicle.

“Due to the unavailability of Russian launch vehicles, the international satellite launch service market is forecast to be reorganized in favor of satellite launch service demanders,” the ministry said, adding that it will accelerate the advance of the country’s Nuri launch vehicle and the development of next-generation launch vehicles.

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