SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea said Monday it plans to launch its first domestically built spy satellite at the end of this month to better monitor rival North Korea, which is expanding its arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The plan was unveiled days after North Korea failed to follow through on a vow to make a third attempt to launch its own reconnaissance satellite in October, likely because of technical issues.
Jeon Ha Gyu, a spokesperson for the South Korean Defense Ministry, told reporters Monday that the country's first military spy satellite will be launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Nov. 30.
The satellite will be carried by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. Under a contract with SpaceX, South Korea plans to launch four more spy satellites by 2025, according to South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration.
South Korea currently has no military reconnaissance satellites of its own and relies on U.S. spy satellites to monitor moves by North Korea.
The possession of its own spy satellites would give South Korea an independent space-based surveillance system to monitor North Korea in almost real time. When operated together with South Korea's so-called three-axis system — preemptive strike, missile defense and retaliatory assets — the country's overall defense against North Korea would be sharply strengthened, according to Lee Choon Geun, an honorary research fellow at South…