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South Korea to launch first military communications satellite


South Korea to launch first military communications satellite

Anasis II in its folded configuration for transport and launch
Photo: Airbus Defense and Space

South Korea is expected to launch its first military exclusive communications satellite, Anasis-II, aboard a reused SpaceX Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The launch was initially scheduled for Monday but postponed due to hardware concerns.

The Anasis-II satellite was built by Airbus as part of a 2014 financial offset program for South Korea’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the US. Anasis-II is a geosynchronous communications satellite that will be deployed in an orbit covering the Korean peninsula. It will provide secure communications for the South Korean military, which currently relies upon a joint commercial-military model to supplement its communications, indicating a lack of military control and security management over Seoul’s telecommunications and surveillance infrastructure.

Today’s launch marks the start of a new era of militarisation on the Korean peninsula. After financing Anasis-II, South Korea signed a $930 million contract with Thales Alenia Space for the construction of “Project 425,” four all-weather spy satellites to launch in 2023 to monitor North Korean operations. In recent years, North Korea has ramped up efforts to build long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles and rudimentary anti-satellite weaponry to counter low-orbiting spy satellites. Anasis-II and Project 425 will provide South Korea with secure communications and real-time intelligence to stay technologically dominant and be strategically prepared to counter their northern adversary to maintain stability on the peninsula.

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