Published: 20:41, May 30, 2024
S. Korea plans Mars landing in 2045 as it launches first space agency
By Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (center) delivers a speech during the inaugural meeting of the National Space Committee at the newly-created Korea AeroSpace Administration (KASA) in Sacheon on May 30, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

SEOUL - South Korea plans to make a Mars landing by 2045 and spend 100 trillion won ($72.6 billion) until then on space exploration, President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Thursday at the launch of the country's first space agency.

The Korea Aerospace Administration (KASA) will lead the country's "space economy," with hundreds of businesses and enterprises working to catapult South Korea into the ranks of the world's top five space powers, Yoon said.

South Korea became the seventh country to own an indigenous space launch vehicle and satellite development technology with the launch of the Nuri rocket in May last year that put a commercial grade satellite in orbit

"KASA will usher in a new space era by cultivating experts while intensively supporting the aerospace industry ecosystem and fostering challenging and innovative R&D," Yoon said. The country's first lunar lander is planned for 2032.

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South Korea became the seventh country to own an indigenous space launch vehicle and satellite development technology with the launch of the Nuri rocket in May last year that put a commercial grade satellite in orbit.

The agency is aimed at streamlining policy and development functions shared among different government ministries and will bring under its structure the aerospace research institute that developed the Nuri and its precursor space launch vehicles.

South Korea plans at least three more space launches by 2027 and has plans to launch military satellites.

Yoon's announcement highlights the increasing efforts Asian nations are putting into space programs for practical reasons, such as honing rocket technology, and to bolster national pride.

READ MORE: South Korea seeks to move up its spot in global space race

In January, Japan became the fifth country to place a lander on the moon after India became the fourth nation to land on the moon last year.

Japan also plans a rover mission to Mars.