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SpaceX Launches South Korean Spy Satellite From Calif.


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying South Korea’s first spy satellite launched Friday from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base, after North Korea successfully launched its own military reconnaissance satellite last month.

SpaceX ended its livestream of the mission minutes after liftoff and then recovery of the rocket’s core stage booster without showing the South Korean payload’s deployment.

In May, South Korea used its own domestically produced Nuri launch vehicle to place a mission-capable satellite into orbit for the first time, but it has contracted with the American company SpaceX to launch a total of five spy satellites by 2025 in an effort to accelerate its goal of having 24-hour watch over the Korean peninsula.

After two earlier attempts ended in rocket crashes this year, North Korea used its own Chollima-1 launch vehicle to place the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite in orbit.

Pyongyang has yet to release any imagery from that satellite, and analysts say its full capabilities are unknown.

© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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