S. Korea set to launch multipurpose satellite Arirang

YASNY, Russia, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was set to launch a multipurpose satellite later Thursday, greatly enhancing its ability to observe and monitor any changes on the Earth's surface.

The Arirang 5 satellite is set to lift off at 8:39 p.m. (11:39 p.m. KST) from a space launch site here in Yasny, 1,800 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

The 1,315-kilogram satellite will be South Korea's fourth multipurpose satellite, but its first with a synthetic aperture radar.

A synthetic aperture radar is an advanced form of side-looking airborne radar that uses radio waves to detect relative motions between an antenna and its target region to identify any distinct variations, in turn, providing a finer spatial resolution than is possible with conventional radars or cameras.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the developer of the Arirang 5 satellite, said the radar will enable the country to monitor the entire Korean Peninsula and other parts of the world even at night and regardless of weather conditions.

"High-resolution radar images from the multipurpose Arirang 5 satellite will also make valuable contributions in various other areas, such as ocean management, disasters and land monitoring," the KARI said in a press release.

The satellite, developed indigenously by South Korea, was originally set to be launched two years earlier, but the launch has been delayed due to what KARI officials have called problems at the Russian launch site.

The satellite cost 238.1 billion won (US$212 million) since 2005 to build.

It was moved to the Yasny launch site in July, and will be sent into space using a Russian space launch vehicle called Dnepr.

The satellite will circle the earth 15 times a day in a sun synchronous orbit with an average altitude of 550 kilometers. It has a mission lifespan of five years, according to KARI.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>