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South Korea to develop hybrid rocket engines

South Korea plans to develop hybrid rocket engines to launch defence satellites. The move comes after the country conducted tests of a new solid-propellant rocket engine in July 2021 (pictured). (Agency for Defense Development)

South Korea's Ministry of National Defense (MND) is to launch a project to develop hybrid rocket engines (HREs) that will be used to launch satellites to support the country's burgeoning space force.

The MND disclosed to Janes that the HRE project will be undertaken in co-operation with South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT (information and communication technology).

The MND said the project – focused on the development of an engine that combines solid and liquid propellants – is intended to increase payloads and reduce the cost of satellite launches. The MND plans to increase the use of low-Earth orbit satellites to enhance persistent surveillance capability.

An MND spokesperson said, “Hybrid engines for space launch vehicles feature technologies that can quickly increase payloads and reduce the cost of launches. To this end, we will review the development of new forms of space-launch vehicle technologies.”

The spokesperson added, “If a space launch vehicle that utilises HRE is developed in the future, we will have [the] capability to respond more flexibly and swiftly [to] our mission and objective requirements. It will also significantly reduce the time required for technology advancement.”

The MND also said that the HRE capability will support MND's plans to position “multiple satellites in different orbits through a single launch”, providing enhanced economic efficiencies.

The MND added that the two ministries are being supported in the HRE project by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD).

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