Arirang-5: South Korean multi-purpose satellite successfully launched

On 22 August 2013, South Korea’s new multi-purpose science satellite, the Arirang-5, was launched atop a Russian Dnepr rocket at the Dombarovsky launch site near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan. The satellite has been developed to operate with a life time of five years at an altitude of 550 kilometers (341 miles) providing images with the goal of monitoring disasters and identifying natural resources.


Altough Arirang-5 constitutes the 11th South Korean satellite to be launched into space, it is the first radar imaging satellite to be developed and operated by South Korea. The Corea SAR Instrument, or COSI, aboard Arirang-5 uses Synthetic Aperture Radar to produce images of the Earth at different resolutions. Nevertheless, for COSI to return useful data, it must be properly calibrated first, and the satellite’s orbit must be determined exactly. For this purpose several reflector arrays were set up in a remote area of Mongolia, which will produce strong signals when radar signals are reflected off them.