2010: The Year South Korea Makes Contact

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South Korea is looking to make major progress in aerospace next year. In addition to the second launch of its KSLV-1 rocket and several satellites, the nation is looking to forge partnerships with NASA, ESA and other major space agencies. South Korea is also increasing its national R&D budget in an effort to make aerospace into a lucrative export engine.

Korea Aerospace Research Institute President Lee Joo-jin told the Yonhap News:

The KARI chief said that detailed talks have started with the United States and European countries on joint research in various aspects of space exploration.

“These cover experiments to be conducted on the International Space Station, micro-gravity, and cooperation in the use of satellites,” he said.

He said that in the new year, KARI will work out details of cooperative pacts with 10 foreign space agencies and research centers.

The moves come as South Korea is increasing its research and development budget in order to become more competitive:

The government has set the goal of devoting 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to science research by 2012, aiming to put the country in a better position to excel in research and development (R&D).

In a policy report to President Lee Myung-bak, Tuesday, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology also vowed stronger innovative support in aerospace and nuclear power technology, two areas Korea hopes to convert into lucrative export engines.

Government spending on R&D will reach 13.6 trillion won (about $11.4 billion) in 2010, from 12.3 trillion won this year, with more than 40 percent of the budget saved for fundamental science and basic research, ministry officials said.

About 130 billion won will be invested to help research into nano materials and other nano-technology areas, while about 190 billion won will be used to support projects for drug development and stem-cell research.