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South Korea rockets into the space industry

August 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: After successfully launching its domestically produced Nuri rocket, South Korea plans to boost investments in the space industry, and Wisconsin companies could provide components to fuel that growth.

South Korea is hoping its space industry will take off now that the country has successfully launched its first domestically produced rocket.

The Nuri rocket, built by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute in partnership with numerous South Korean companies, blasted off on June 21 and sent several satellites into orbit, including one that confirmed the rocket’s successful flight by making contact with a base station in Antarctica.

South Korea is now the seventh nation capable of putting satellites into orbit using its own technology, assets and facilities. “South Korea’s science and technology took a great step forward today,” Lee Jong-ho, the government’s science and technology minister, told a nationally ​televised news conference.

The event was particularly noteworthy because in a test launch of the Nuri in October 2021, the satellite released by the rocket developed problems and could not maintain its orbit.

South Korea expects to hold four more rocket launches by 2027 in an effort to improve Nuri’s technical reliability and stability.

South Korea’s government now says it will invest $619 million—15% more than it initially planned—into its space program in 2022. However, that’s still far behind other countries, such as the U.S. budget of $48.6 billion, China’s budget of $9.1 billion and Japan’s $3.3 billion.

With the growth of its space industry, South Korean car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia have signed an agreement with six government-funded research institutes to work on technology and robotics to explore the surface of the moon. In addition, Korea Aerospace Industries pledged in 2021 to invest $880 million over five years to expand its research and development in the space industry, including satellite production.

U.S. aerospace exports to Korea topped $1 billion in 2020, according to the Korea International Trade Association, with 98% of the sales going for commercial and defense aircraft and their components.

South Korea was the 10th largest destination for Wisconsin exports in 2021, with a value of $572.6 million.

Wisconsin has numerous companies in the aviation and aerospace industries, which are the state’s 10th largest export category and resulted in $473.7 million in sales in 2021.



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