Satrec Initiatives builds small and medium-size satellites like SpaceEye-T shown here. SpaceEye-T is designed to capture Earth imagery with resolution as high as 30 centimeters per pixel. Credit: Satrec Initiative

SAN FRANCISCO – Hanwha Aerospace, South Korea’s largest defense company, announced plans Jan. 14 to invest approximately $100 million to purchase 30% of the shares of satellite manufacturer Satrec Initiative.

Once the deal is completed, Satrec Initiative, a firm known for manufacturing small and medium-size Earth-observation satellites, will be managed independently but will have access to additional resources including Hanwha Aerospace’s radar and infrared technologies, according to the news release.

“This agreement provides the financial resources and strategic partnership that we can leverage for further growth,” Ee-Eul Kim, Satrec Initiative CEO and president, said in a statement. “We will expand our business to proactively respond to the growing domestic and international demands on [Synthetic Aperture Radar and infrared] satellite systems as well as optical satellite systems.”

As part of the agreement, Hanwha Aerospace and Satrec Initiative are establishing a strategic partnership for domestic and international businesses.

Satrec Initiative, founded in 1999 by engineers who developed the first Korean satellite, builds Earth observation satellites and ground systems independently and with partners including the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center.

Satrec Initiatives has two subsidiaries: SI Imaging Services, which focuses on satellite imagery distribution services; and SI Analytics, which provides geospatial analytics services based on artificial intelligence.

Hanwha Aerospace is developing the liquid rocket engine for Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Korea Space Launch Vehicle-2. Hanwha Aerospace subsidiary Hanwha Systems develops active electronically scanned array radars and also electro-optical and infrared surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

South Korea is expected to upgrade its Earth observation fleet after winning U.S. permission in July to conduct research and to develop solid-propellant rockets. Prior to the agreement, South Korea was prohibited from developing solid-fueled launch vehicles by a bilateral agreement with the United States focused on ballistic missiles.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...