A heterogeneous constellation refers to a mixed group of orbital satellites. Normally, different types of satellites do not cooperate with each other because they are based on different platforms and operating systems. However, the heteronomous satellite network systems allow communication between satellites hooked onto the same network.
Demand for heterogeneous satellite operation has been increasing during the last decade with an increased number of small-sized satellites about the size of an oil drum can and nano-satellites about the size of a large grapefruit are launched into space. By connecting those small satellites together, countries with limited communication or land-monitoring capabilities can beef up their ability to establish a stable network, especially during disastrous situations.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said that the agency and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) opened the research center on the KAIST campus in the central city of Daejeon. A total of 22.1 billion won ($17.9 million) will be injected for the development of core technologies for heterogeneous satellite communication systems. Researchers from 14 institutes including KAIST, and Seoul National University, and defense contractor LIG Nex1 will participate in the development project.
The research center in KAIST is South Korea's second research center specializing in space sciences. DAPA said that the agency will open two more space technology research centers in 2023 to improve the country's capabilities. In December 2022, South Korea opened a research center specializing in the development of technologies for the upgrades of reusable unmanned spacecraft at Seoul National University.
"We will provide full support so that the latest space technology can be used in the defense sector," DAPA chief Eom Dong-hwan said in a statement on February 2.
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