South Korea's first military communications satellite could be launched into space next week, US-based websites on space launch schedules showed Monday.
The Anasis-II satellite could lift off from Florida on a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket by US-based commercial space firm SpaceX on around July 14 (US time), though the schedule is subject to change, according to Spaceflight Now, a news outlet specializing in space and aviation.
It earlier reported that the launch could take place around the second week of July.
Space Launch Schedule, another rocket launch tracking website, said, "The launch window for the Government/Top Secret mission is on 07/15/2020 UTC (UNCONFIRMED) from Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral, FL."
This project is part of an offset package for South Korea's purchase of 40 F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin in 2014. Lockheed subcontracted the satellite manufacturing deal in 2016 to Airbus Defense and Space. Last month, Airbus confirmed that the Anasis-II was shipped from its factory in France to Florida "for its forthcoming launch."
South Korea's arms procurement agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), however, refused to confirm whether South Korea and the US set the date.
It is also unclear if the Seoul government, which has long stressed the sensitivity of this issue, will officially announce the upcoming launch.
Sources said the target date is supposed to be fixed at least 15 days ahead. "We are working to push for the project normally," a DAPA official said.
The satellite is based on the Airbus Eurostar E3000 satellite platform and will provide "secured communications over wide coverage," according to the manufacturer. Other detailed features were not known.
Currently, the South Korean military relies on international and civilian-owned satellites for communications.