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(Yonhap Feature) S. Korea striving to nurture aerospace industry

All Headlines 11:00 October 09, 2009

By Lee Joon-seung

SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will strive to join the ranks of world's aerospace technology leaders by forging future cooperative tie-ups with foreign space experts and agencies at an upcoming global astronautical conference, organizers of the event said Friday.

The 60th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), scheduled to start Monday for a five-day run, is likely to bring together a record 3,000 participants from 70 countries, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Daejeon City said.

The participants will attend numerous conferences, technical sessions and exhibitions in Daejeon, 164km south of Seoul, that will set future trends on technological development, draw up laws and regulations and promote activities for peaceful and sustainable use of space.

The congress is expected to help South Korea highlight progress made in its aerospace capabilities in the past 20 years and build important human networking that can fuel joint research and development (R&D) and information sharing.

"The IAC is the greatest concentration of experts in this field, that could play a integral part in getting South Korea to make the next leap forward in the development of this crucial sector," science minister Ahn Byong-man said.

After a late start, Seoul managed to send its first astronaut into space in 2008 and launched its first satellite-carrying rocket in late August. Policymaker have also pledged to spend 24 billion won (US$20.5 million) over the next three years to fuel the country's capabilities in the space exploration field.

The minister pointed out that the country is committed to space exploration, with plans moving forward to launch a second Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) and satellite next year and by moving to build a wholly indigenous space vehicle around 2018. The KSLV-1 uses Russian technology for the main booster rocket, with South Korean scientists making the smaller second stage rocket and satellite. The August launch has been viewed as a "half-success" since 100kg scientific satellite failed to reach proper orbit and was lost.

Choi Heung-sik, secretary general of the Daejeon local organizing committee, echoed Ahn's resolve to move forward despite some setbacks, claiming that the future of mankind lay in the use of space.

"Space science and related technologies are vital because they have far reaching implications for industrial and everyday use," he said.

He claimed the country's strength in the information technology sector -- which has considerable applications in space exploration -- can be used to attract cooperative tie-ups, and human networking.

The former diplomat pointed out that cooperation is crucial since South Korea cannot by itself develop all the knowhow. Governments are usually reluctant to share space-related technologies that are directly linked to overall national competitiveness and can be used for military purposes.

Winning cooperation translates into economic gains for the country, which is seeking to find viable next generation growth engines that can help create new jobs and generate business investment.

State-run Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade speculated that the KSLV-1 project that cost 502.5 billion won generated 533 billion won worth of fresh work in the local construction sector with an additional 362.9 billion won created by the production of parts, materials and components used in the rocket.

Research has also shown that space exploration-related technologies have greater value-added worth in the long run than automobile manufacturing.

Organizers for the IAC 2009 Daejeon, meanwhile, said that world experts from U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Chinese National Space Administration and Russian Federal Space Agency will be present in force to discuss ways to move forward on peaceful use of space.

Executives and researchers from Boeing and Lockheed Martin and universities will be present as well.

Aerospace experts government officials and businessmen, will take part in "highlight lectures" outlining space exploration, technical sessions, a young professional program and so-called late breaking news that can help gauge the latest development trends.

They will exchange views on the latest advances made by aerospace companies around the world, and the potential role of astronautical sciences to deal with global climate change.

South Korea is the fourth in Asia to host the IAC after Japan, China and India, and won the right to organize the event in 2006, by beating out challenges from Prague and Shanghai.

The congress, first held in Paris in 1950, is the single largest conference on space science, with 28 countries having played host so far. It aims to promote the peaceful use of space, supports research and studies and sets regimes to regulate development.

Besides gathering for experts, Daejeon, KARI and the science ministry said special exhibitions will be held throughout the week to mark the 40th anniversary of man's first landing on the moon, and celebrate the U.N.'s International Year of Astronomy.


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