Hanwha Aerospace, the space business arm of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, has been tapped as the company to lead the project of upgrading the homegrown Nuri rocket and launching it four more times through 2027, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute said Friday.
According to Hanwha Aerospace’s regulatory filing, the company on Thursday signed a contract worth approximately 286 billion won ($220 million) with the state-run institute.
The official selection came about two months after the company was selected as the preferred bidder over the Korea Aerospace Industries in October.
Under the contract, Hanwha Aerospace will be in charge of putting together South Korea’s future launch vehicles and managing the companies taking part in the space project.
As Hanwha Aerospace participates in overseeing the Nuri rocket's upcoming launches slated for 2023, 2025, 2026 and 2027, the company will also receive the relevant technologies from the KARI.
With the technology transfer, Hanwha said it plans to commercialize the “space transport” business in the future.
The government’s project of advancing the homegrown space rocket Nuri aimed at creating the Korean version of the US SpaceX, a US company that became one of the leading firms in the global space race after the technology transfer from NASA.
When the Nuri rocket’s second launch resulted in a complete success in June, South Korea became the seventh country in the world with the indigenous capability to have developed and launched a satellite greater than 1 ton. Over 300 local companies took part in putting together the homegrown satellite launch vehicle, including Hanwha Aerospace playing one of the major roles as it managed the assembly of the rocket engines.
“Although the extra launch of the Nuri rocket is still a challenging task that cannot guarantee a success, we will upgrade S. Korea’s space industry with the Nuri rocket’s another successful launch through the accumulated capabilities of the KARI, the technology of about 300 companies and Hanwha’s passion for space business,” said a Hanwha Aerospace official.
Hanwha has been aggressively expanding its space businesses since the conglomerate established the Space Hub, a group-wide council dedicated to fostering space businesses, in March 2021. The group has acquired and invested in a number of foreign space communication firms such as OneWeb and Pager Solution. Kim Dong-kwan, president of Hanwha Solutions and the eldest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon, has led the Space Hub.