South Korea set to finalize cancellation of launch contracts with Russia

a white rocket launches into a cloudy gray sky.
Europe's Vega-C rocket lifts off for its debut flight on July 13, 2022. The Vega-C will launch a South Korean satellite previously slated to lift off atop a Russian vehicle. (Image credit: ESA)

South Korea is close to completing the termination of a satellite launch contract with Russia.

International sanctions imposed against Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine mean that a pair of satellites due to fly on Russian rockets in 2022 will need to find a new route to space.

"The Korea Multipurpose Satellite 6 and the next-generation mid-size satellite Compact Advanced Satellite 500-2, both developed by Korea, were initially scheduled to be launched into space using Russian launch vehicles," South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) said in a statement, The Korea Times reported on Oct. 10. 

Related: Russia's invasion of Ukraine as seen in satellite photos

"But due to the war between Russia and Ukraine and the subsequent international sanctions against Russia, there were uncontrollable circumstances that prevented the use of Russian launch vehicles." 

South Korea and Russia have since been attempting to negotiate terms of termination of the launch contract. That process is now nearly complete, according to the report. Details of the contracts and talks have not been disclosed. 

Russia has lost a number of commercial launch contracts and space partners in the wake of its war on Ukraine. The country is now looking to countries including Iran, also under a sanctions regime, for business.

Arirang 6, also known as Korea Multipurpose Satellite 6, will now be carried to orbit by Arianespace's Vega-C rocket as early as December 2024, while Korea's science ministry has a preferred bidder to launch the CAS 500-02 satellite.

South Korea, which has growing space ambitions and an operational lunar orbiter, is also developing homegrown Nuri launch vehicles for independent launch capabilities.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.