Hanwha Aerospace Set to Launch the NURI Four Times More… Chosen as the "Leading Space Company in Korea".
Hanwha Group's space business has reached a major milestone with the acquisition of launch vehicle technology, propelling it into full-scale operations in the space industry. The strategy is to establish a space business value chain, ranging from space transportation services to various satellite utilization services and space exploration, using the capabilities obtained by launching the NURI four more times in partnership with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) until 2027.
On the 2nd, Hanwha Aerospace announced that it signed a contract to manufacture the Korean Space Launch Vehicle (NURI) Upgrade Project Launch Vehicle worth KRW 286 billion from Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) on the 1st.
Hanwha Aerospace, which secured the top spot for the contract last month after being selected as the preferred bidder, plans to build three Nuri vehicles and launch four more between next year and 2027 together with KARI.
The “NURI Upgrade Project” is a government initiative led by the Ministry of Science and ICT, with a budget of KRW 687.38 billion. It aims to launch the Korean space launch vehicle, NURI, through a consortium of KARI and private enterprises. The project aims to secure space transportation capabilities and foster and support total system technology in the private sector.◎ Additional launch of NURI…“placing national satellites and others into orbit”
Through this project, Hanwha Aerospace will sequentially inherit the total system technology and launch operation know-how of the NURI (Korean space launch vehicle) held by KARI.
From the third launch scheduled for 2023, NURI will be launched a total of four times by 2027 to put commercial satellites into orbit for various missions, including space technology verification and ground observation. As the only Korean company capable of providing launch services, Hanwha Aerospace aims to actively engage in commercializing "space transportation" in the future. This includes sending private satellites, spacecrafts, and various materials into space.◎ Continued investment in unchartered areas of the space industry… "We will achieve the challenging goals of space exploration.”
Hanwha Group, with the establishment of its space industry consortium “Space Hub” last year, has set ambitious goals to lead space exploration and resource acquisition efforts in Korea, which is seen as a latecomer to the space industry. Hanwha is dedicated to long-term investments in this field.
Hanwha Systems has been expanding its space communications service business by acquiring the British satellite communications antenna company, Phasor (currently Hanwha Phasor) in 2020, along with an equity stake in Kymeta, the U.S. satellite communications antenna company, and a 9% stake in OneWeb, the world's first space internet company in 2021.
Satrec Initiative, the only company in South Korea that develops and exports satellites, has already secured a presence in the satellite data services business. Hanwha Aerospace, which merged with Hanwha Defense, plans to further diversify its launch vehicle capabilities by merging with Hanwha Defense (formerly the Defense Division of Hanwha Corporation) in March next year.
Hanwha Aerospace is navigating its strategy to become the first "total solution provider in the space industry” by building a value chain that incorporates satellite manufacturing, launch transportation, and satellite services, and cutting-edge space exploration technology for the future.◎ “Space sovereignty” is secured, but still a long way to go... Cooperation with government, business, and university required
South Korea has succeeded in developing a launch vehicle with the successful launch of the NURI, but a large gap with the existing space technology of powerhouse countries remains. The size of the Korean space industry is less than 1% of the global market as of 2019, and the research workforce of KARI amounts to about 5% of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) workforce. The space development budget is only 1% of that in the U.S..
The U.S. government contributed an active role in developing a private sector-led space industry ecosystem. Since its founding, SpaceX, the world-leading space company, has secured more than half of the approximately USD 1 billion (around KRW 1.3 trillion) it has earned in the first 10 years through contracts with NASA.
To narrow the gap with powerhouse countries in the space industry, it is necessary to make pioneering strides in the "Space 2.0" era where private companies can generate profits from the space business through a "Korean-style fast follower strategy" in which government policy support and investment, corporate-led technology acquisition, and university-led essential technology research are carried out simultaneously.
A Hanwha Aerospace official said, "The additional launch of NURI is still a challenging project that is not certain to be successful. But based on the accumulated capabilities of KARI, the technology of over 300 domestic companies, and Hanwha's passion for space business, we will surely succeed in upcoming launches and take the Korean space industry to the next level.