South Korea Launches A Spy Satellite From Kennedy Space Center

( — On Sunday April 7, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from the John F Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying with it South Korea’s second homegrown spy satellite along with ten other spacecraft. The South Korean satellite then entered orbit about 45 minutes later and began communicating with a ground station. The country’s first homegrown spy satellite launched in December from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base.

While local media sources claimed that the satellite sent up in December has been producing good-quality images of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, some sources have said that the images required heavy editing, and they are expecting better-resolution photos beginning this month with a “full reconnaissance mission” expected to start over the summer. The new satellite is equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors that use microwaves, which allow it to collect data at night as well as in all weather conditions.

North Korean state media has claimed that their country is well on track to becoming a “space power,” with plans to launch three new spy satellites in 2024. In November North Korea launched its first military spy satellite into orbit after two earlier failed attempts. South Korean defense minister Shin Won-sik believes that North Korea may launch a new spy satellite as early as this month. South Korean defense ministry spokesperson Jeon Ha-gyu explained that Won-sik’s comments were based on their military’s observations of North Korea’s recent activities.

The U.S. has condemned North Korea’s launch of their first spy satellite, Malligyong-1, calling it a breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions which block dual-use technology that may be used to advance North Korea’s ballistic missile program. However, North Korean officials say that their satellite program is necessary for national defense and will improve the security of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea has suspended part of their 2018 military agreement with the North and resumed patrols along the demarcation line between the two nations, while North Korea quit the pact entirely and announced they will also be patrolling the area.

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