Glavkosmos, Russia’s launch service provider, has just announced that it will launch 2 South Korean CAS500-series satellites in 2019 and 2020.
After a tender bid held early this year, Glavkomos signed two satellite launch contracts last week: on 17 August 2017, Glavkosmos signed a contract with South Korea’s space agency the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) for the launch of CAS500-1, and on 18 August 2017, with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the launch of CAS500-2.
Both satellites will be launched on a Soyuz 2.1a with a Fregat upper stage, Russia’s three-stage rocket usually used for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) launches. Both satellites, each weighing approximately 500kg, will be launched with other unspecified payloads.
CAS500-1 and CAS500-2 will be the first two of KARI’s CAS500 (Compact Advanced Satellite 500) series satellites meant for Earth Observation (EO) purposes. Each is expected to have a lifespan of 4 years, and will follow a Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at an altitude of 500km. Both will carry domestically-developed payloads, including electro-optical cameras, microwave probes and hyperspectral imaging cameras.
In developing the two CAS500 satellites, KARI hopes to expand the domestic satellite industry and to export Korea-made satellites. It believes that the CAS500 series will be more cost-efficient compared to larger satellites, and will be able to form satellite constellations for real-time EO.