The Republic of Korea Embarks on Journey Towards Becoming Space Powerhouse
The Ministry of Science and ICT (Minister Lee Jong Ho, MSIT) and the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (Minister Lee Sang-min, MOIS) announced that, following the passage of three bills related to the establishment of the Korea AeroSpace Administration through the National Assembly on January 9th, the two Ministries will proceed with follow-up measures for the establishment of the space agency in full scale.
In the face of intense global competition in the aerospace field, countries around the world are advancing rapidly to the moon and Mars through dedicated space agencies, making devoted efforts to foster various private space industries, such as satellite data utilization, space mining, and space delivery. To ensure that South Korea does not lag behind in this competitive space race, President Yoon Suk Yeol, during his candidacy, unprecedentedly included the establishment of the Korea AeroSpace Administration (KASA) for the growth surge to a space power and the opening of the space era in his campaign promises and the government's national agenda.
In November 2022, President Yoon personally announced the Future Space Economy Roadmap and initiated the preparation for the establishment of an aerospace agency by launching the Preparatory Office for the Korea Space and Aeronautics Administration. The government submitted the legislative bill to the National Assembly in April last year, and the President emphasized the urgent need for the swift passage of relevant bills through various occasions. Finally, on January 9th this year, a set of bills aimed at establishing an independent aerospace organization passed the National Assembly, marking the culmination of efforts for the leap to a space power.
The recently passed bills signify the strong determination of the government and the private sector to enhance competitiveness in the aerospace sector and promote space industries, encompassing various aspects. The key contents are as follows:
With the expansion of the scope of space policy to include space exploration, industry, security, and international cooperation, the current system with dispersed aerospace functions across ministries has limitations for growth. To systematically develop and implement a plan, the government submitted three bills to the National Assembly on April 6th last year.
The submitted bills underwent discussions primarily in the Science, ICT, Broadcasting, and Communications Committee of the National Assembly. Starting from the meeting attended by all members of the committee on May 24th, the bills went through various stages of review by subcommittees, and legislation and judiciary committee, finally passed at a plenary session of the National Assembly on January 9th.
Key Provisions of the Relevant Bills
The Special Bill on Aerospace Administration, as a special law that takes precedence over other laws, is characterized by various exceptions as an innovative model for government organization. The aerospace administration is established as an external agency to the MSIT, overseeing space policy, research and development, industrial promotion, civil-military cooperation, and international cooperation.
To facilitate flexible organizational operations, the director can swiftly establish, change, and dismantle project organizations under the administration through the Aerospace Administration directives. Special personnel provisions, including recruitment, remuneration, dispatch, and concurrent positions, are introduced to facilitate flexible human resource management centered on experts. Additionally, it includes provisions for the establishment of the Aerospace Development Fund and the transfer of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute under the jurisdiction of the Administration. The effective date is set as four months after promulgation.
The Partial Amendment Bill to the Space Development Promotion Act aims to enhance the status and functions of the National Space Cuncil by elevating the position of the chairman from the Prime Minister to the President. It also strengthens support for the space industry cluster. The Partial Amendment Bill to the Government Organization Act provides the basis for the installation of the Korea AeroSpace Administration as a central administrative agency.
3. Follow-up Plans
The government, upon the establishment of the Korea AeroSpace Administration (KASA), plans to thoroughly examine and prepare various aspects necessary for the Administration's full-scale operation, including the establishment of subordinate regulations, the transfer of organization, projects, and research institutions, budget securing, exploration of international cooperation projects, recruitment of experts, and the provision of office facilities.
Subordinate Regulations Establishment: Approximately 30 related provisions for implementing regulations, personnel, organization, and project management in line with the Special Bill will be formulated. Additionally, MSIT will prepare a new organizational structure proposal for KASA and engage in discussions with relevant ministries such as MOIS.
Organization and Budget Transfer: The organization and budget related to aerospace policy tasks, projects, industrial promotion, international cooperation, and talent development within the MSIT and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy will be transferred to the Administration.
Transfer of Research Institutes: To transfer the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASSI) to KASA, relevant procedures, including the formation of a board of directors and amendments to the articles of organizations, will be carried out.
Budget Securing: MSIT will secure preparatory budgets (for rent, facilities, etc.) before the official opening of KASA and stable operational budgets (personnel expenses, basic expenses) through discussions with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in 2024. Additionally, budget request of the Administration for 2025, aimed at promoting aerospace projects, will be prepared by May.
Exploration of International Cooperation Projects: Immediately after the establishment, MSIT plans to initiate joint projects with leading space research institutions such as NASA in the United States and JAXA in Japan. The Ministry also plans to proactively explore economic cooperation projects with emerging countries, particularly those with recent MOU signings in the aerospace field, such as the UAE.
Recruitment of Specialized Personnel: The workforce of KASA will be composed mainly of domestic and international experts. Term-based public officials will be recruited from the private sector, and domestic and international talent will be secured through invitation and recommendations. General public officials will be added through transfers, open recruitment, and special recruitment to perform policy formulation and administrative tasks.
Office building, Settlement Support for KASA staff, etc.: Immediately after the establishment, a temporary office building will be secured in the first half of the year. Measures for supporting living conditions, such as housing and transportation, will be established for the stable settlement of outstanding personnel. Additionally, before the establishment, the Administration’s network infrastructure and information systems, including the website, will be developed.
The aerospace industry is emerging as a new future growth engine that will lead global order and the economy. The government aims, through KASA, to foster over 2,000 innovative aerospace companies leading the national economy based on creative ideas and technological capabilities, and to create approximately 500,000 quality jobs and significantly expand the government's investment in the aerospace industry, targeting a 10% share of the global market (estimated at 420 trillion won). If achieved, South Korea will be one of the top five space powers globally by 2045.
Despite forecasts by foreign institutions such as Morgan Stanley that the aerospace market size will double by 2030 compared to 2020, South Korea's global market share in the aerospace field is currently around 1%, despite successful launches of Nuri (Korea’s three-stage launch vehicle) and Danuri (Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter), and achievements in aircraft development. In the midst of intense global competition in the privately-led aerospace field, the MSIT aims to secure leadership in the global aerospace competition through active public-private cooperation, supporting the aerospace sector to become a new growth engine for the South Korean economy.
Minister Lee Jong Ho of MSIT emphasized, "Through the establishment of the Korea AeroSpace Administration, we will nurture dreams and hopes together with the people, enhance competitiveness with industry-academia collaboration, and pioneer a new future with the world based on creativity and technological prowess." He further stated, "The establishment of KASA not only provides a new growth engine for the economy by promoting the aerospace industry but also marks the beginning of a great step toward achieving the goal of lunar landing in 2032 and Mars exploration in 2045, the centennial anniversary of national liberation. MSIT will spare no effort to move towards our space on our land, with our hands and using home-grown technology."
For further information, please contact the Public Relations Division (Phone: +82-44-202-4034, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Ministry of Science and ICT.
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