Korean Air to help develop small-satellite launch vehicle; Kleos confirms next Polar mission

Korean Air Small Satellite Launch Vehicle Development Meeting
(PHOTO: Korean Air)

Use this oneKorean Air will develop common bulkhead propellant tanks for small satellite launch vehicles as part of the Ministry of Science and ICT’s “Space Pioneer” project. The Ministry of Science and ICT plans to invest a total of 211.5 billion won (US$186 million) by 2030 in the “Space Pioneer” project, which aims to strengthen the global competitiveness of the domestic aerospace industry by reducing dependence on overseas products.

With a budget of 32 billion won, Korean Air has formed an industry and academic consortium with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, NDT Engineering & Aerospace and Korea Aerospace University to develop common bulkhead propellant tanks for small satellite launch vehicles by 2026. The common bulkhead propellant tank combines fuel and oxidizer tanks into a single tank using the latest metal welding and insulation technology. This new technology will increase the competitiveness of the small satellite launch vehicle market in Korea, as it will reduce the number of satellite launch vehicle parts, simplify structures, decrease vehicle weights by 30 percent, and cut down production costs. The common bulkhead propellant tank is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of sending 500-kg small- and medium-sized satellites or small satellite constellations into Earth’s low orbit.

The small satellite launch vehicle market is expected to  grow rapidly worldwide. SpaceX has already launched 1,000 400-kg satellites and plans to launch up to 12,000 more in the future. Global IT companies such as Amazon and Facebook are also planning to launch hundreds of small- and medium-sized satellites.

On 23 June 20 engineers and officials from Korean Air, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, and NDT Engineering & Aerospace gathered at the Korean Air R&D Center in Daejeon to discuss development plans, a future roadmap, and the scope of cooperation. Korean Air will manage the risk and quality assurance system as well as testing and evaluation for certification. The developed common bulkhead propellant tank will be used as a major component of a 500-kg small satellite launch vehicle, which is to be developed by Korean Air and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.

In 2012, Korean Air developed and assembled Korea’s first space launch vehicle, Naro (KSLV-1), and the company has core technology capabilities such as aircraft system integration and aircraft structure development. Through the successful launching of the project, Korean Air plans to contribute to the development of Korea’s space industry and strengthen the industry’s global competitiveness.

Kleos Polar Vigilance mission launch timing confirmed
Kleos Space, a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has received confirmation that the Kleos Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1) will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station onboard the Spaceflight SXRS-5/SpaceX Transporter-2 Mission and is targeted for a 25 June liftoff.

Kleos CEO Andy Bowyer said, “We are looking forward to the launch, which will be live-streamed on our website. This launch is yet another key milestone for us, growing our data collection constellation and ultimately our product inventory.” The four satellites will be deployed into a 525km Sun Synchronous orbit that will increase Kleos overall coverage density in the equatorial region and cover areas North and South of the Kleos Scouting Mission satellites, which successfully launched on in November into a 37-degree inclined orbit. Kleos uses clusters of four satellites to collect radio transmissions over key areas of interest around the globe and after processing a geospatial data product is delivered to analytics and intelligence entities for government and commercial use – efficiently uncovering the locations of human activity on land and sea. A third cluster of satellites, the Polar Patrol Mission (KSF2), is scheduled and will launch at the end of this year.

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