Chief of U.S. Space Operations Gen. John W. ``Jay” Raymond speaks in a video message screened during the 22nd International Aerospace Symposium at Grand InterContinental Hotel in Seoul Oct. 18. Credit: ROK Air Force

SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S. Space Force’s top general expressed hope for deepening cooperation with South Korea’s military Oct. 18, saying “Katchi Kapshida,” which means “We go together” in Korean, a symbolic slogan of the long-standing Korea-U.S. alliance.

Chief of U.S. Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond cited the slogan during his video message for the 22nd International Aerospace Symposium at Grand InterContinental Hotel here, a biennial event organized by the Republic of Korea Air Force.

“A key part of deterrence comes from strong international partnership, mutual trust and shared value,” Raymond said. “A long-standing alliance between the United States and Republic of Korea is a great example of the strong partnership.”

He said the bilateral space partnership had been strengthened with the Aug. 27 agreement reached between him and Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Park In-ho at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And having a “deeper partnership” is critical to ensure stable and peaceful use of the increasingly contested space domain, he noted. Under the agreement, the ROK Air Force will join U.S. Space Force-led joint military drills aimed at bolstering the latter’s defense capabilities in outer space. The two sides also set up a joint consultative body on space policy, share information on space surveillance and improve joint space operations capabilities such as missile defense.

“In fact, one of Space Force’s top priorities is making partnership with nations around the world, including the Republic of Korea. We are working with these nations to train together, develop capabilities together and operate together,” he said.

‘Closer U.S.-ROK space ties’

Benjamin S. Lambeth, a senior fellow at California-based think tank RAND Corporation, called South Korea a “formal partner” of the U.S. in space cooperation. “The ROK is now preparing to spend some $14 billion on improving its on-orbit capabilities. This suggests one solid basis for closer U.S.-ROK space ties,” Lambeth. “Another was last year’s launch of the ROK’s first military communications satellite by a U.S. Falcon 9 rocket.” He said America’s upcoming technical support to develop South Korea’s own satellite navigation system would offer “another promising venue” to enhance the partnership.

While speakers from the U.S. largely focused their presentations on how to strengthen the Space Force’s capabilities, Korean speakers discussed policies and regulations that will help bolster the nation’s space power and industry.

“Space is no longer a mere area of curiosity; rather, it has now become a key domain for our national security, and only rigorous preparation will ensure our survival in the future space environment,” said ROK Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Park In-ho. “To this end, civil-military-government cooperation has become more important than ever.”

Park expressed high expectations for the Oct. 21 launch of South Korea’s first domestically manufactured space launch vehicle, KSLV-2, from Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province. He said the launch, if successful, will “mark a new milestone in Korean space history as we will be equipped with the ability to launch our own satellite, using our own launch vehicle, from our own land.”

The three-stage KSLV-2 rocket is set to lift off at 3 a.m. Eastern, Oct. 21, carrying a 1.5-ton dummy payload. Whether the test is a success will likely be known about 16 minutes after the launch, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which developed the rocket.

While Hwang Chin-young, a senior researcher at KARI, called for more government spending on space projects, Park Sang-young, a Yonsei University professor versed in nano satellite, urged “closer and more efficient” cooperation among space-related government and state-funded organizations.

Kim Yi-eul, CEO of Satrec Initiative, asked universities and professors to nurture more engineers with strong problem-solving abilities.

Park Si-soo covers space industries in South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. Park worked at The Korea Times — South Korea's leading English language newspaper — from 2007 to 2020. He earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Korea...