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Recent regional space developments include Japan’s new “information-gathering” satellite, South Korea’s spy satellite launched by SpaceX and North Korea’s recent surveillance satellite deployment.
Japan’s Information-Gathering Satellite “Optical-8” was recently launched on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket, which marks the 48th launch of Japan’s flagship launch vehicle since 2001, with an impressive success rate of 97.92%.
According to Interesting Engineering, Japan plans to retire the H-IIA rocket after two more launches and replace it with the H3 rocket, a transition that faces some challenges since JAXA’s first test launch of H3 failed in March last year.
Early this recent December, SpaceX launched South Korea’s first spy satellite, a launch that shortly followed North Korea’s launch of its military reconnaissance satellite. South Korea has contracted SpaceX to launch five spy satellites by 2025, an initiative that aims to enhance the nation’s ability to monitor the Korean peninsula around the clock. This success adds to South Korea’s efforts to develop independent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
South Korea’s defense ministry has said in a statement: “With this successful launch of the military satellite, our military has secured independent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.”
Meanwhile, North Korea has announced ambitious plans to launch three new spy satellites, build military drones, and bolster its nuclear arsenal. According to state media, leader Kim Jong Un expressed concerns about the US policy, stating that it makes war inevitable. He also ordered the military to be prepared to “pacify the entire territory of South Korea,” including with nuclear bombs if necessary, in response to any potential attack.
South Korea’s defense ministry responded by strongly condemning North Korea’s plans for nuclear ambitions, stating that any attempt to use nuclear weapons would be met with overwhelming retaliation.
To conclude, the recent space activity developments by Japan, South Korea, and North Korea all underscore the region’s geopolitical significance, with technological advancements, military posturing, and diplomatic tensions shaping the narrative for the coming year.