[Herald Interview] Satrec Initiative poised for leap in Korea's space rush

[Herald Interview] Satrec Initiative poised for leap in Korea’s space rush
Satrec Initiative’s low-Earth orbit satellite (Satrec Initiative)This is the second installment in a series of interviews with executives of Korean companies with space ambitions. — Ed. 

About a month from now, South Korea will launch its first homegrown rocket “Nuri.”

A successful launch of the domestically made space launch vehicle is expected to herald a new space era for the country, where government-led programs transition to market-oriented ventures, with a key hindrance — the decades-old Korea-US missile guidelines that put curbs on Korea’s space launches — cleared.

At the vanguard of the Korean space rush is Satrec Initiative.

Founded in 1999 by engineers who built the country’s first satellite Uribyeol 1, the firm manufactures small satellites for Earth observation missions. One of its major clients include the South Korean military, which faces a belligerent and nuclear-armed North Korea.

“To launch a satellite, you have to wait for your turn. If the mission control says, ‘It’s raining’ or ‘There has been a delay,’ you can’t do anything about it,” Jeon Bong-ki, the firm’s managing director, said of the Oct. 21 launch of Nuri. 

[Herald Interview] Satrec Initiative poised for leap in Korea’s space rush
Jeon Bong-ki, managing director at Satrec Initiative (Satrec Initiative)“The key is to launch a satellite at the right time and get the information you need at the right moment. This is why we need a homegrown rocket, even if it’s more expensive than SpaceX.”

The local satellite industry had long been shackled by complex geopolitical situations surrounding the Korean Peninsula, epitomized by the now-defunct US curbs on S. Korea’s missile development. But Satrec believes it was the perfect environment that enabled them to make rapid advances in the global private satellite market.

“The Korean Peninsula is the world’s most sensitive region. The South Korean military tells us, ‘If you can prove it here, you’ll have no problem elsewhere.’ Providing successful detection and analysis services in the peninsula warrants our technology overseas,” Jeon said.

As of September 2020, about 65 percent of the firm’s satellite sales came from exports to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, among others.

Utilizing the Korean Peninsula as its giant test bed, Satrec Initiative has evolved into the nation’s sole private company equipped with a complete satellite value chain. From manufacturing the satellite body, satellite camera and ground station to analyzing and selling satellite footage, the company offers the whole package.

Yet, there exists an overwhelming technological gap between Satrec and established players in the US and Europe. Asked what its survival strategy is, Jeon pointed to the firm’s greatest weapon — price competitiveness.

“Satrec Initiative’s small satellites can deliver 80 percent performance at 20 percent the price,” Jeon said.

According to Jeon, when Satrec Initiative launched its small-sized SpaceEye-X observation satellite, it immediately emerged as an alternative to the large-sized WorldView-3 satellite in the market.

WorldView-3 offered a resolution of 0.31 meter, clear enough to identify the types of vehicles on the ground, but it was heavy and expensive, weighing 2,800 kilograms and costing $300 million. SpaceEye-X, though offering a less accurate resolution of 0.45 meter, only weighed 400 kilograms and cost $60 million.

“Over the last 20 years, all we thought about was optimization. Look at Hyundai Motor. The carmaker knows how to source parts from different vendors, assemble them in an optimized design and sell the car at the price it wants. Satellite business is pretty much the same,” Jeon said.

“Inside a satellite body, there are different parts controlling heat, electricity, power and so on. The know-how is to stuff them inside without any interference.”

South Korea’s comparatively low labor costs also enabled them to cut prices, Jeon added.

Based on decades of optimization skills, Satrec Initiative is pushing the limits of small satellites, currently developing SpaceEye-T, a small satellite with a resolution of 0.3 meter, the same specs as WorldView-3. The price of SpaceEye-T is $100 million, one-third of WorldView-3.

The project could take shape thanks to the investment from Hanwha Aerospace, which acquired a 30 percent stake in Satrec Initiative at 108.9 billion won ($92 million).

According to Jeon, Hanwha’s investment will not just aid Satrec. The money will trickle down to smaller players in the local field, revitalizing domestic supply chains for satellites.

When the government — the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute to be more precise — was the only source of cash inflows, rules of economics and business potential were often overshadowed by policy goals. The KARI used its budget to localize several satellite components, which it deemed strategically important, but their mass production or local supply chains were not of their main concern.

To lead and further advance Korea’s satellite industry, Satrec Initiative is set to expand its business frontiers, employing artificial intelligence for satellite image analysis and exploring commercial-off-the-shelves, or COTS parts, for its satellites.

“In the past, the industry was very conservative and only used parts that had been verified in space no matter how old they were. But recently, startups are using commercial parts as satellite parts. When we saw those satellites performing well in space, it kind of changed our thoughts. For instance, some startups are using DSLR image sensors for satellite cameras,” Jeon said.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Gigabyte hit by ransomware once again

© Provided by TechRadar ID theft Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Gigabyte has supposedly fallen prey to yet another ransomware attack. If true, it would be the second time the companye has ... Read more »

The best early Black Friday laptop deals are at Dell - see our top picks

It may still be October but we’re already starting to see some killer laptop deals that would rival anything over Black Friday. If you’re after a brand new machine in ... Read more »

MacBook Air 2022 could get Mini-LED screen – and no controversial notch

© Provided by TechRadar MacBook Air 2020 shown half-closed Apple’s next MacBook Air might come equipped with a Mini-LED screen like the new MacBook Pros – maybe minus the notch ... Read more »

Google launches bug bounty program for Android Enterprise

Google has announced the first vulnerability rewards program for its Android Enterprise initiative with bounties going up to $250,000, as part of its effort to further secure the platform. © ... Read more »

ASUS TUF 24.5 gaming monitor down to just $230, but you'll have to act fast

The ASUS TUf 24.5 gaming monitor is even more affordable for a limited time. Black Friday isn’t for another month, but Best Buy already has some of the best deals ... Read more »

Here's how to deal with those badly written equations you find online

Spend enough time on social media and it’s likely that you’ll see what I’ve started to call a Bad Math Scam. This is where an account, looking to juice their ... Read more »

The new Instagram features you will soon be using

© Courtesy of Instagram Instagram is launching new features. Instagram is giving its users some new goodies to play with. The social network has just unveiled five new tools that ... Read more »

Rate of coal and gas power decline NEVER been achieved before

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Keeping global temperatures from rising by more than 2.7°F (1.5°C) will require a cut in coal and gas power production, at a level ... Read more »

Hospitalized Covid patients 3x as likely to suffer cognitive issue

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are more likely to suffer from cognitive issues months after recovery than patients who didn’t require medical care, a new ... Read more »

Only a fraction of operators have reached '5G' tipping point

Just 14% of 5G operators around the world have been able to encourage 10% or more of their customers to subscribe to their next generation network service. © Provided by ... Read more »

The best wireless headphones 2021: our pick of the best ways to cut the cord

The best wireless headphones of 2021 include some of the most advanced audio devices we’ve ever seen. The best part? These wireless headphones come in all shapes and sizes, from ... Read more »

Malware can easily abuse Discord features to attack users

© Provided by TechRadar Malware Cybersecurity experts have successfully demonstrated that the features of gaming-centric messaging platform Discord can easily be abused for malicious purposes. Researchers from Check Point Research ... Read more »

New US rules on spyware exports try to limit surveillance tech like Pegasus

The US Department of Commerce announced a new rule to prevent the sale of hacking tools to China and Russia, The Washington Post reports. The Commerce Department outlined the change ... Read more »

How to customize your iPhone's app icons

Have you ever wanted to make your iPhone your own, with your individualized style and flair? Sure, you can change your home screen wallpaper. But if you really want to ... Read more »

Vergecast: Apple and Google's competing events this week

Every Friday, The Verge publishes our flagship podcast, The Vergecast, where co-hosts Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn discuss the week in tech news with the reporters and editors covering the ... Read more »

Tokyo 2020 Olympics suffered half a billion attempted cyberattacks

Whilst the Olympic Games were taking place in Tokyo earlier this year, another, huge competition was also taking place behind the curtain – between the organization’s 200-people strong cybersecurity team, ... Read more »

The 47 best gifts for couples that they'll both enjoy

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Trying to pick out the perfect gift for your couple friends ... Read more »

A retail listing shows the specs of the Intel Core i9-12900K Alder Lake CPU

© Windows Central Intel Core i9-11900K review The specs of the upcoming Intel Core i9-12900K have appeared on a retail listing. What you need to know A retail listing reveals ... Read more »

Here's when you can start playing Age of Empires 4

© Provided by Windows Central Here’s when you can choose your civilization and begin gathering resources. At long last, Age of Empires 4 is on the way, soon to be ... Read more »

Not just Wix: Another Israeli Technology Enables No Coding Engagement Products

© Storycards Gil Rabbi, Co-Founder at Storycards Following the huge success of Wix in no-coding web design, another Israeli company, Storycards, led by engagement guru Gil Rabbi will bring no-coding ... Read more »

Human brain DECREASED in size 3,000 years ago, study finds

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The size of the human brain has changed numerous times throughout human history, but the vital organ decreased approximately 3,000 years ago due ... Read more »

Rocket failure mars US hypersonic missile test

The Pentagon’s hypersonic weapon programs suffered a setback on Thursday when a booster rocket carrying a hypersonic weapon failed, people briefed on the test result said. © Andrey Rudakov /Bloomberg ... Read more »

The Navy released a scathing report about the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard

This story originally published on Task & Purpose.​ © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross/U.S. Navy The Navy sailor who set the 2020 fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard ... Read more »

Get more done with 20% off HP's EliteOne 800 G6 all-in-one and other PCs

If you’re looking for a computer upgrade at work, HP has a few devices on sale right now that will definitely upgrade your office space. With the code HPEXCLUSIVETWENTYOFF, you ... Read more »

Twitter's algorithm favours right-leaning politics

© Getty Images Twitter amplifies tweets from right-leaning political parties and news outlets more than from the left, its own research suggests. The social-media giant said it made the discovery ... Read more »

Samsung's unique Frame TV is $500 off

Samsung’s The Frame doubles as both wall art and an HDR-compatible QLED TV. The television offers a decor-friendly design while also displaying customizable images when somebody’s in the room. When ... Read more »

Best Destiny 2 Exotic weapons and armor in 2021

© Provided by Windows Central These are the most powerful and efficient Exotics in the Destiny 2 sandbox. Exotics are the most powerful and unique items you can obtain in ... Read more »

Lukaku and Werner will miss Chelsea's next two games AT LEAST

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Chelsea have been dealt a double injury blow ahead of this weekend’s clash with Norwich City, after Thomas Tuchel confirmed that they will ... Read more »

10 must-have plus-size clothes to buy from Old Navy

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. I have no qualms admitting it: I love Old Navy. More ... Read more »

UK households offered £5,000 grants to replace boilers with heat pumps

The government recently announced that it will provide £450 million in funding to encourage households in England and Wales to install electric heat pumps. Over the next three years, it’s ... Read more »

New Microsoft 365 service identifies privacy risk before it's too late

Microsoft has announced new controls for Microsoft 365 that will help customers manage privacy of their users in accordance with the local laws. © Provided by TechRadar A representational image ... Read more »

Xbox series X stock - live: AO restock sells out – here's who could drop next

LIVE – Updated at 14:00 © iStock/The Independent Xbox liveblog hero Update: Argos has restocked the Xbox series X for collection in specific stores. Enter your postcode to check your ... Read more »

NASA's Deep Space Food Challenge awards $450,000 to first-round winners

© Provided by Space NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have teamed up for the Deep Space Food Challenge, which aims to spur new ideas about how to feed astronauts ... Read more »

China, space junk and more: Senators voice spaceflight concerns

© Provided by Space Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky shared this photo of the International Space Station on Twitter on Sept. 29, 2021. He and two colleagues were relocating a Russian Soyuz ... Read more »

Challenge for astronomy: Megaconstellations becoming the new light pollution

© Provided by Space An astronomical image marred by trails caused by satellites of SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation. Satellite megaconstellations are quickly becoming a serious problem to 21st century astronomy akin ... Read more »

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will face '29 days on the edge' after launch (video)

© Provided by Space Artist’s illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope with its massive sunshield fully deployed. NASA’s newest space telescope will face 29 “harrowing” days after launch as ... Read more »

10 incredibly stylish clogs to wear this fall

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Walk down the shoe aisle of a department store, open up ... Read more »

Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones fall to $248, plus the rest of the week's best tech deals

This week brought our first official early Black Friday sale, courtesy of Best Buy. While we expect to see even more of these events before we hit Black Friday proper, ... Read more »

Best smart home devices 2021: automate your home with these gadgets

The best smart home device will ensure your property offers the perfect environment without you having to lift a finger. Whether you want the light dimmed to a certain level, ... Read more »

Trump's social network was defaced before it even launched

It took only a few hours for pranksters to find and deface a test version of former President Trump’s yet-to-launch social media platform called TRUTH Social. According to The Washington ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic