VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — South Korea launched its first military spy satellite into space Friday, a little over a week after North Korea claimed to put its own spy satellite into orbit for the first time as tensions rise between the rivals.
Launched from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base using SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, it was the first of five spy satellites South Korea plans to send into space by 2025 under a contract with SpaceX. The event had been scheduled for earlier in the week but was pushed back because of weather conditions.
South Korea had no military reconnaissance satellites of its own in space and has partially resorted to the United States' spy satellites to monitor moves by North Korea.
South Korea's Defense Ministry described the launch as successful, saying the satellite had a communication with an overseas ground station.
A ministry statement said the launch allowed the South Korean military to acquire an independent space-based surveillance system. It said the satellite would also help bolster the military's preemptive missile strike capability, a key part of its so-called three-axis system that includes missile defense and massive retaliatory capabilities.
After two launch failures earlier this year, North Korea said it successfully placed its Malligyong-1 spy satellite into orbit last week. North Korea has since said its satellite had transmitted imagery…