West News Wire: An agreement between NASA and the science agency of South Korea will be signed on Tuesday, according to a White House official, as the two allies meet this week to strengthen their high-tech alliances and security connections in an effort to discourage North Korea.
The deal comes as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol makes his nation’s first state visit to Washington in 12 years this week for a summit commemorating the alliance between the United States and South Korea’s 70th year.
NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT head Jong-Ho Lee will sign a Joint Statement of Intent for Cooperation on Space Exploration and Science at the U.S. space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland on Tuesday, the White House official and a NASA official said.
The joint statement, to be signed before a tour of Goddard with Yoon and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday, will affirm the countries’ aim to work together on several areas such as space communications, space-based navigation and research on the moon, the White House official said.
South Korea has been developing its own space and launch capabilities while aligning itself closer to U.S. space efforts in recent years, as global military activity surges in Earth’s orbit and civil space exploration re-emerges as a key tool of diplomacy.
Seoul in 2021 signed the Artemis Accords, a U.S.-led bilateral pact charting norms of behavior in space and on the moon’s surface, and last year launched its Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter aboard a SpaceX rocket to conduct science observations in the moon’s orbit.
U.S. Forces Korea in December set up a space force in the country tasked with monitoring, detecting and tracking incoming missiles, after South Korea in the same month set up its own space unit as part of its air force. (Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Don Durfee and Jonathan Oatis)