SpaceX launches South Korean spy satellite

SpaceX launched the Korea 425 reconnaissance satellite and 24 other rideshare payloads Friday morning at 10:19 am PT from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

This is the first of 5 reconnaissance satellites from the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). Due to customer requests, no video was shown of the payloads at fairing separation.

The satellite was launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit and, once in orbit and through the proper checkouts, will be capable of 30 to 50 centimeters of image resolution and will make an orbit about every two hours.

This isn’t the first South Korean military payload launched by SpaceX, they previously launched the Anasis 2 military communications satellite for the country back in July 2020.

There were 24 other various payloads on this mission hitching a ride to space, including the very first Irish satellite, EIRSAT-1, which was built by students of the University College Dublin which partnered with the European Space Agency’s Fly Your Satellite program.

Some of the other payloads onboard include satellites from Space BD, Planet IQ, D-Orbit, SITAEL, and York Space Systems.

As for the Falcon 9 on this mission, this is the first time SpaceX has launched another customer payload on a Falcon that has launched more than 15 times.

Booster 1061 took its 17th trip to space, and back. It has previously launched seven Starlink missions, eight (Crew 1 & 2) astronauts to the ISS, the CRS-23 mission to the ISS, and six other various payloads.

After stage separation, B1061 flipped around and performed a boostback burn to return to Landing Zone 4, which is just 1,400 feet away from the launch pad. SpaceX announced that this was their 250th landing of a Falcon first stage, but it technically could be 251st if you count the Falcon Heavy center core that successfully landed during the Arabsat 6A mission but later tipped over before it could be secured due to rough seas.

SpaceX also used flight-proven payload fairings, which is now the norm for their mission, these fairings flew for the 5th and 6th time and will be recovered from the Pacific Ocean.

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
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