Asia Minute: Busy Time for Regional Satellite Launches

Dec 7, 2018

The Soyuz TMA-05M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday, July 15, 2012
Credit Carla Cioffi / NASA

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for space landings and launches. Last week, NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars — and there have been other developments involving space programs in South Korea and India. 

Rocket launches are often international affairs these days, and this week was no exception.

A French rocket launched from South America on Tuesday carrying the largest satellite ever built in India – along with the first weather satellite built entirely in South Korea.

The Indian telecommunications satellite weighs more than six tons — so heavy that it had to use Arianespace to carry it through the atmosphere. The satellite will help expand broadband capacity across the country . . . extending it to remote areas.

Government figures count more than 440 million internet users in India — a number that’s expected to double within four years.

Last week, an Indian rocket carried a series of smaller satellites into space from eight different countries — mostly commercial clients. Launching satellites is a growing business across the Asia Pacific, and it’s one that South Korea is eager to join.

Last week, South Korea successfully tested a domestically-developed rocket engine. That’s a milestone on the way to the country producing its first space launch vehicle.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute says the project remains on track for the debut of that vehicle sometime in the year 2021.