Hanwha Signed Korea’s First ISRU Agreement with Six Government-Funded Research Institutes
Hanwha Aerospace, a subsidiary of Hanwha Space Hub, joined hands with six government-funded research institutes (hereinafter referred to as government-funded institutes※) to enhance participation in space in-situ resource utilization (ISRU).※ The six government-funded institutes include the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Korea Institute of Energy Research, and Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.
On the 9th, Hanwha Aerospace announced that it has signed a multi-party Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government-funded institutes at the Cretaceous Room, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) in Daejeon. The MOU was formed to facilitate public-private cooperation in space In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).
Hanwha Aerospace is the first domestic space company to sign an agreement with a government-funded research institute regarding ISRU.
In-situ resource utilization (ISRU※) refers to the utilization of local resources on celestial bodies such as the Moon or Mars to produce essential materials. It primarily involves the production of water, oxygen, solar panels, building materials, and launch vehicle fuel, among others. The Artemis Program is a joint initiative of 12 countries※ that aims to send astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable human base on the Moon by 2030.※ ISRU: In Situ Resource Utilization ※ Artemis Accords (12 countries): United States, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, New Zealand, and Brazil
The memorandum of understanding signed on this day entails ▲cooperation in participating in exploration programs such as Artemis related to ISRU, ▲ cooperation in the development of each institution's specialized field in the development of a demonstration payload for the extraction of useful resources, and ▲ cooperation in the construction of early/long-term plants for ISRU on the Moon and Mars. The agreement is valid for 10 years after signing, and can be extended in one year intervals by the written agreement of each party.
The signing ceremony was attended by Hyun-woo Shin, CEO of Hanwha Aerospace, Byung-suk Kim, President of the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, Hyun-min Park, President of the Korea Research Institute of Standards, Kwang-eun Kim, Acting President of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Sang-ryool Lee, President of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Jong-nam Kim, President of the Korea Institute of Energy Research, and Won-seok Park, President of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. This marked the first domestic partnership between the six government-funded research institutes.
Hanwha Aerospace announced that it will actively lead the space industry in the New Space era by establishing a comprehensive partnership system for ISRU technology with government-funded research institutes, and will collaborate in proactive investment, government policies, and future tasks. Furthermore, it is expected that this agreement will contribute to strengthening the space industry network platform and establishing and activating the domestic space industry ecosystem.
Interest in domestic and international lunar exploration participation has increased following the government’s Artemis Accords and Korea's lunar lander plans in May. The company is prioritizing technology development projects for lunar resource extraction, and is working on a mid-to long-term roadmap and specific implementation plan for domestic ISRU development.
Meanwhile, ISRU technology is a key technology that will be applied in space in the future, and it is essential to secure it at this time with space development gaining full-scale traction. Accordingly, the company emphasized that it is essential for Korea to secure its position in the space industry by participating in international ISRU programs such as the Artemis program through proactive preparations.
Hanwha Aerospace CEO Hyun-woo Shin said that he believes that the company has taken the first step toward developing space ISRU technology through this MOU, adding that although a gap between remains Hanwha and global leaders, it is expected to be closed, owing to Hanwha's aggressive investment in tandem with the government’s space-related resources and technical support.