For military purposes, the US and South Korea officially agreed to collaborate on SSA (space situational awareness).
According to a statement issued by the South Korean defense ministry on April 26, the SSA agreement is part of a broader space security agreement struck between John D. Hill, who is the US deputy assistant secretary in charge of defense for space and missile defense, as well as Cho Yong-geun, who is the defense ministry’s director of North Korean policy in South Korea, during the Space Cooperation Working Group (SCWG) session in Washington on April 25. The SCWG is a working-level consultative group on space security cooperation between the two countries that has been in operation since 2013.
Seoul and Washington will “exchange intelligence about outer space,” “nurture space professionals through training and exercises,” and “improve interoperability for integrated space operations” under the terms of the pact.
The pact, according to the ministry, includes “specific missions” that will help the two countries’ space security capabilities. A representative for the ministry refused to elaborate.
“South Korea proposed the proposal [of space security collaboration] in a February 2020 meeting, and the two sides have worked very closely to strike a deal since then,” the ministry stated.
This is the most recent in a succession of South Korean endeavors to improve its skills in SSA and other space security-related challenges.
At the Peterson Air Force Base facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in August, South Korean Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Park In-ho and US Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond signed a memorandum of understanding on the formation of a joint space policy advisory council. Under the terms of the agreement, the two countries established a joint advisory organization on space guidelines, shared information on the space surveillance, and collaborated on joint space operations capabilities including missile defense. As a result, the South Korean air force has opted to participate in joint military drills led by the US Space Force.
The opening of South Korea’s first space operations facility in Gyeryong, South Chungcheong Province, followed, with objectives including developing space policies for the country’s military services as well as improving cooperation with domestic and foreign partners, including the United States Space Force.
Col. Park Ki-tae, the center’s first chief, said in October that the agreed-upon joint drills will assist improve South Korea’s SSA capabilities.
“Improving our ability to identify dangerous things in space as well as how to avoid them as they approach our satellites is one of the major things we aim to achieve via cooperation with the US Space Force,” Park stated at a military technology seminar today. He added that improved capabilities would allow South Korea’s air force to offer timely warnings if an item from orbit fell to Earth.