July 28, 2006
South Korea Launches Satellite that Can Spy on North
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea sent a satellite into space on Friday primarily for geographical surveys but also for possibly spying on North Korea, which raised regional security concerns by launching missiles earlier this month.
The 900-kg (2000 lb) Arirang-2 satellite, launched in Russia, can take high-resolution pictures of the earth's surface, a government agency said. Experts said it would be the country's most advanced surveillance satellite.
"The high-definition MSC (multi-spectral camera) will be able to give real-time visual data on North Korea's missile launch preparations or military activities, which would be otherwise unavailable," South Korea's Overseas Information Service said.
At present, South Korea mostly relies on U.S. spy satellites and planes for aerial reconnaissance of North Korea.
North Korea defied international warnings by firing off seven missiles in July, including its long-range Taepodong-2, which destructed after about 40 seconds in the air.
The Arirang-2 satellite gives South Korea the ability to identify objects on the ground one meter in diameter, the information service said. The satellite will mostly work on mapping and help search for natural resources.
The launch had been planned for several months. The Russian rocket with the satellite blasted off from a launch pad in the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, approximately 800 km (500 miles) northeast of Moscow, the information service said.