South Korea’s Satrec Initiative to build constellation of high-resolution Earth observation satellites

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SEOUL, South Korea — Satrec Initiative, a satellite maker under South Korea’s Hanwha Group, will send a high-resolution imaging satellite called SpaceEye-T into low Earth orbit by the first quarter of 2024, in the first step toward building its own constellation of Earth observation satellites.

The company unveiled the plan Aug. 18, saying SpaceEye-T will present its technological capabilities to potential civilian and military customers at home and abroad amid increasing demand for satellite-based Earth observation data.

The 700-kilogram satellite is designed to offer a 30-centimeters-per-pixel resolution, with a swath width of 12 kilometers, according to a news release. Satrec has not selected a launch vehicle for SpaceEye-T, which it aims to complete in 2023 for an undisclosed cost.

“We see an increasing demand for satellite-based Earth observation data, particularly in the fields of energy, climate monitoring, disaster management, and reconnaissance and surveillance for military purposes,” Jeon Bong-ki, a Satrec Initiative executive, told SpaceNews. “SpaceEye-T will pave the way for the company to enter these increasingly lucrative markets.”

He noted that the launch of SpaceEye-T would mark the beginning of the company’s journey toward building its own constellation of Earth observation satellites, but didn’t elaborate further.

He said while Satrec Initiative is responsible for developing SpaceEye-T, its two affiliates — SIIS and SIA — will be committed to operating the satellite and commercializing its collected data.

Satrec Initiative is South Korea satellite maker founded in 1999 by the engineers who developed the first Korean satellite (KITSAT-1) at KAIST Satellite Technology Research Center. It became an affiliate of South Korea’s conglomerate Hanwha Group in January after the group’s defense business arm, Hanwha Aerospace, purchased a 30-percent stake in Satrec Initiative for about $100 million.