August 22, 2006

S.Korea launches military communications satellite

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea sent its first military and civilian communications satellite into space on Tuesday, less than a month after placing in orbit its first satellite that can spy on North Korea.

A private firm launched the satellite called Mugunhwa 5 -- named after the national flower, the rose of Sharon, from a sea-based platform in waters near Hawaii, the defense ministry said. It is South Korea's first for military communications.

The 300 billion won ($313.6 million) satellite was developed by the country's military and largest fixed-line telecom and broadband operator KT Corp., the ministry said.

On July 28, a private firm in Russia launched the Arirang-2, which is being used primarily for geographical surveys but can also spy on North Korea, a government information agency said.

($1=956.7 Won)