Korea, U.S. deepen cooperation in space

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Korea, U.S. deepen cooperation in space

Imagery envisioning NASA's lunar exploration mission Artemis Program. [NASA]

Imagery envisioning NASA's lunar exploration mission Artemis Program. [NASA]

 
Korea will join a U.S.-led lunar exploration mission, part of extended cooperation in space and satellites discussed by President Moon Jae-in and U.S. president Joe Biden last week in their Washington summit.  
 
The Ministry of Science and ICT announced Thursday that Minister Lim Hye-sook signed the Artemis Accords, a set of international rules and guidelines for the peaceful use of space resources.
 
Korea is the tenth country to commit to the international agreement drafted by NASA. U.S. allies including Japan, United Kingdom and Canada made the commitment last year.  
 
With the signing of the accord, Korea will engage in research for the Artemis Program, NASA’s lunar exploration mission aimed at landing the first female astronaut and and a male astronaut on the Moon by 2024.  
 
An initial area of cooperation will involve the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), the first lunar orbiter developed in Korea, which is set to be launched in August 2022. It will be assigned work for the NASA moon mission identifying areas with water.
 
“For the Moon mission, it is critical to find an ideal landing area,” said a spokesperson for the Science Ministry.  
 
“The KPLO will survey and bring together topological information about the Moon, and analysis of the data will play a significant role in selecting or adjusting the landing spot,” the spokesperson said.  
 
The lunar orbiter will be equipped with an advanced camera called ShadowCam, which is being provided by NASA.  
 
The camera will be used to capture high-resolution images of surfaces of the Moon in permanently shadowed regions.  
 
The head of NASA celebrated Korea’s coming on board.  
 
“I am thrilled the Republic of Korea has committed to the Artemis Accords. Their signature demonstrates the strong momentum worldwide in supporting our Moon to Mars exploration approach,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.  
“Partnering in deep space will ensure our missions are carried out in accordance with important, universal principles like transparency, safety, and peaceful exploration, which are critical to ensuring a safe, and prosperous future in space for all.”
 
Korea's Science Minister echoed those expectations.
“With the signing of the Artemis Accords, Korea would be able to strengthen cooperation with nations participating in the accords in exploring outer space,” Lim said in a statement.  
 
Other signatories include Australia, Italy, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine.  
 
Korea is the first nation to sign the agreement under the Biden Administration.
 
The two countries also agreed to collaborate on developing Korea’s own navigation satellite system.  
 
The Science Ministry said Thursday that it signed an agreement for cooperation with the U.S. National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation & Timing.  
 
BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
 
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