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South Korea to launch space security center under spy agency

April 26, 2024 - 17:42 By Kim Arin
South Korea sends its first spy satellite into orbit on Dec. 2 from California‘s Vandenberg Space Force Base. (Space X)

South Korea is preparing to establish a center for space security under the National Intelligence Service.

Under the revisions to the presidential decree that took effect Tuesday, the NIS is set to operate the National Space Security Center, dedicated to intelligence activities concerning the space sector.

With the center’s launch, the country’s spy agency will have the authority to respond to threats to space assets and systems of the country and other enemy threats in the space domain on top of collecting and analyzing space intelligence.

The NIS will develop and disseminate technologies to strengthen space security, and its chief will take on duties related to the Korea Satellite Operations Center jointly with the science minister, according to the revised decree.

The revised decree also gives the spy agency the authority to be involved in the operations the two military reconnaissance satellites South Korea has and other space assets.

The latest revisions to the presidential decree on space security were made to clarify the scope of spy agency’s programs expanded under an amendment to the National Intelligence Service Act in December 2020. The amendment added space security as part of the agency’s role and responsibilities.

South Korean military authorities believe North Korea may send additional spy satellites into space after their first was successfully put into orbit last November.

Though Shin Won-sik, Seoul’s defense chief, does not think North’s sole military reconnaissance satellite is capable of carrying out “meaningful spy activities,” its next ones may be equipped with enhanced capabilities amid help from Russia.

In a summit held September last year, Russia said it would provide North Korea with space technologies as part of widening military cooperation between the two countries.