Opening the era of space explorationFollowing the successful launch of the Naro rocket, a new space project has begun by the talented minds of the government, research institutes and universities to write a new history. They are working to develop a Korean-built rocket by 2018 and to explore the moon by 2020. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute also established “Space Vision 2040,” a long-term roadmap for having a space transport system, expanding the space territory onto the Earth’s orbit and realizing the era of space exploration. For a sustainable and successful space program, there are tasks that we must resolve.
First, we must secure the investments necessary for space development. As of now, the government budget for the nation’s space projects is about 230 billion won ($206.46 million). That is only about one tenth of the United States and Japan in proportion to the countries’ gross domestic product.
Today, the market of the global satellite industry is worth about 290 trillion won a year and it is growing about 10 percent every year.
Space development also influences other relevant industries. Integrated circuits, high-strength carbon materials, artificial intelligence, robotics, global location tracking and magnetic resonance devices are the examples. Therefore, the investments into the space industry must go up by three to four times from that of 2012 systemically yet rapidly.
Furthermore, we need basic source technologies to support technological developments. Professionals for the field also need to be educated. Space technology is a massive convergence technology of systems, components and materials. It is a strategic technology that requires a long time for development and it is also hard to import.
To overcome the difficulties, the government needs to establish a strategic growth policy for space industry. We want to feel proud in 2020 by seeing a science exploration rover, developed by our own technologies, to travel on the surface of the moon.
by Lee Suk-han Professor of electrical and electronic engineering at Sungkyunkwan University and chairman of the Space Robotics Forum