Nation state politics interferes with launching satellites

With the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, many countries have imposed sanctions to limit supplies that Russia has access to condemn the war. This has limited the Russian’s space program, without sufficient supplies to prepare rockets launches. Unfortunately, this has indirectly impacted other nations that have signed contracts with the Russia to launch satellites, including South Korea.

South Korea had planned two satellites for launch via Russian rockets: their remote sensing satellite, a CAS500-2, and a multipurpose satellite, a KOMPSAT-6. Given the delay in launch, this has forced the South Korean science ministry to look for alternatives, and according to insiders they are currently considering SpaceX and Arianespace. However, this switch would cost the nation 47.2 billion won ($32.9 million) and lose the 47.2 billion won ($32.9 million) they had already paid the Russians, even after revoking the contract.

It’s quite interesting learning about how conflict between two nations can cause international impact.  This situation highlights the necessity for leading nation-states to develop their own space programs. Thankfully for South Korea, the two satellites that were planned for launch are not essential technological or defense-related systems, but rather more research-oriented. Furthermore, handing over satellites to other nations for launch would run the risk of revealing the mechanisms of ground-breaking technology, preventing a nation from staying “ahead of the game” in terms of technology, space, and defense. Being a leading nation requires both innovation and adequate programs/systems in place to launch those new technologies.