South Korea confirms first spy satellite in orbit

South Korea has confirmed that its first military spy satellite had reached orbit after a successful SpaceX rocket launch and that communication was established with ground control.

Seoul’s reconnaissance satellite, carried by one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, intensifies a space race on the Korean peninsula after the North launched its own first military eye in the sky last week.

South Korea’s defence ministry said Saturday its satellite reached orbit soon after the “KOREA”-emblazoned SpaceX rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base in California.

The satellite was launched 0319 Seoul time and was successfully separated from projectile 11 minutes later and put into targeted orbital trajectory.

Notably, reaching orbit means that South Korea now has its first domestically built spy satellite to monitor nuclear-armed North Korea.

Further, it is to be noted that Seoul plans to launch four additional spy satellites by the end of 2025 to bolster its reconnaissance capacity over the North.

Set to orbit between 400 and 600 kilometres (250 to 370 miles) above Earth, the South’s satellite is capable of detecting an object as small as 30 centimetres (11.8 inches), according to the Yonhap news agency.

The launch comes less than two weeks after Pyongyang successfully put its own spy satellite into orbit.

Until now, South Korea has relied heavily on US-run spy satellites when it comes to monitoring the North.