South Korean Space Agency Joins Disaster Relief Pact

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South Korea’s space agency, the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), has become the newest member of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, which makes space-based data available free of charge to aid in disaster relief and recovery efforts, the U.K. Space Agency announced July 18.

KARI, part of Korean Ministry of Science, Education and Technology, sent a letter of intent to join the charter last year and officially came on board July 7, according to the U.K. Space Agency. As a member, KARI will provide remote sensing data from the Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite-2 to support recovery efforts whenever the charter is invoked.

“We are proud to have KARI join other agencies around the world in supporting the Disaster Charter, particularly since the Charter has recently proven the relevance of space in alleviating human suffering caused by natural and technological disasters,” KARI President Seungjo Kim said in a prepared statement.

The charter, created in 1999 by the European and French space agencies, has been invoked 15 times so far in 2011 following events including the earthquake and resulting tsunami in northern Japan in March. The charter is chaired by Alice Bunn, a remote sensing specialist with the U.K. Space Agency.