Korea successfully launches air monitoring satellite

The Chollian-2B, the world’s first geostationary environmental monitoring satellite made using domestic technology, was successfully launched from the Guiana Space Centre in South America, Korea’s aerospace agency announced.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said an Ariane-5 carrier rocket lifted the 3.4-ton satellite into orbit from the center in French Guiana at 7:18 p.m., Tuesday (local time) exactly on schedule.

At 7:49 p.m., 31 minutes after launch, the Chollian-2B separated from the rocket and made its first contact with a ground tracking station in Yatharagga, Australia at 7:55 p.m., according to KARI.

Choi Jae-dong, director of the satellite program at KARI, said the Chollian-2B had been successfully launched. “The first contact was the first step in confirming a successful launch,” he told reporters. The next step is for the satellite to deploy its solar panels to generate power that will enable it to commence operations.

The multi-purpose satellite is scheduled to reach its geostationary orbit, 36,000 kilometers above the Earth, in about two weeks and test operations will begin a week later.

The Chollian-2B will orbit the Earth tracking the generation, migration and extinction of environmental pollutants such as fine and yellow dusts, and marine conditions around the Korean Peninsula for the next 10 10 years. Full operation is scheduled to begin in 2021.

The satellite is equipped with an air quality monitoring sensor called a geostationary environment monitoring spectrometer (GEMS) to observe pollution events on the Korean Peninsula and Asia-Pacific region.

Following the launch of the Chollian-2B, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch their geostationary air monitoring satellites, the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) and Sentinel-4, respectively, within a few years.

Thanks to the satellite, Koreans will be able to receive more accurate information about ocean and weather conditions around the peninsula.

“If operations go smoothly as planned, the satellite will offer ocean information from October 2020 and meteorological information starting 2021,” the Ministry of Science and ICT said.

The development of the geostationary Chollian-2B will also give a boost to the country’s aerospace industry. Core components such as heat control and power distribution systems are now produced domestically; and KARI said the technologies and study results it has accumulated will be transferred to private companies.

The Chollian-2B was developed in collaboration with the science, environment, and oceans and fisheries ministries. Kari, an organization affiliated with the science ministry, has led the project since 2011, working with private companies including Bell Aerospace and Airbus.