Military sets up space data center

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Military sets up space data center

The Korean Air Force announced Wednesday that Korea had launched its first situation room for monitoring space data at its headquarters in Gyeryong, South Chungcheong, which could be used to track enemy military satellites and bolster its defensive posture.

The space information center will be able to collect real-time surveillance data from the United States and share the data with relevant domestic agencies.

“This will be the first state-level situation room taking advantage of outer space,” an Air Force official said. “For the time being, we will be able to receive and use real-time space information on the U.S. Strategic Command, and in the future acquire reconnaissance satellite equipment to enable the capacity to independently obtain information.”

This could also help prevent accidental collisions of satellites or other orbital objects.

The situation room will utilize satellite surveillance data installing a common operational picture (COP) - a single display of relevant information that can be seen by multiple parties simultaneously - to analyze the current situation through 2-D and 3-D imagery. It will also use a global positioning system (GPS) to gather more detailed information, especially from satellites that cross over the Korean Peninsula.

The project is a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Korea’s Ministry of National Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense last September to share space-situation information.

On Wednesday, the Air Force also signed agreements with the Korea Meteorological Administration; the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute; KTsat, a Korean satellite research firm; and Kaist to share space data via the situation room.

A military official said that with “over 1,000 artificial satellites in space and over 50,000 space wreckages, should a Korean military satellite collide into any of this, it will be rendered useless.”

He indicated the need for a plan to help protect Korea’s assets in space and eliminate any sources of threats.

This is the first step toward a three-stage Star Wars-like space strategy plan by the Korean Air Force to boost its military prowess in space as it moves to establish a system within the next 25 years to neutralize enemy satellites.

The first stage is expected to be completed by 2020, advancing the situation room, the COP system and acquiring space telescopes to monitor satellites. By 2030, early warning systems and radar surveillance will be expanded, among other abilities. The last stage by 2040 will enable the Korean military to set up defense systems to neutralize enemy satellites.

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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