Site: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Satellite Technology Research Center
373-1, KuSeong-Dong, Yuseong-Gu
Taejon 305-701, Korea

Date Visited: June 3, 1997

WTEC: J.V. Evans (report author), J. Pelton



The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is a technology university that would correspond roughly as the MIT of Korea. It has about 2,500 undergraduate students and 4,000 graduate students. KAIST was selected in 1990 by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) for the establishment of a Satellite Technology Research Center (SaTReC), with financial support from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) for space research and the training of engineers.

SaTReC commenced its foray into space research by sending a team of engineers to the University of Surrey (U.K.) where they assisted in the construction of a 50 kg microsat (KITSAT-1), which was launched (by an Ariane 4) in August, 1992. KITSAT-1 carries a CCD earth-imaging camera, a packet store-and-forward communication system and a cosmic ray experiment. KITSAT-2 was then built in Korea using much the same technology and format, but with a low-energy electron detector and IR sensor experiments replacing the cosmic ray experiment. KITSAT-2 was launched in September 1993.

At the time of the WYEC visit, SaTReC had a budget of about $12.5 million, with 60 faculty and students engaged in satellite research and engineering. The faculty members come from a number of different departments. The institute has relationships with the University of Surrey, University College, London and the University of Iowa and it sends students to these institutions.


Currently, SaTReC is building KITSAT-3, a 100 kg microsat to be launched by India in 1998. This will be a 3-axis stabilized satellite in a Sun-synchronous orbit, whose principal payload instrument will be a three-channel (red, green and near IR) CCD camera with 15 meter resolution. The camera is being developed jointly with the University of Stellenbosh in South Africa. Other instruments include an experiment to measure radiation effects on solid-state memory devices, an electron temperature probe, a magnetometer, and a high energy particle telescope. Attitude control will be via gyros and a star-sensor with a goal of 0.5 pointing accuracy.

SaTReC is presently operating KITSAT-1 and 2 and has the capability to capture the stored image data as well as data obtained by the French SPOT-Image and JERS-1 satellites (via a 13 m fully steerable antenna). VAX computers and Sun workstations are employed in the processing center.

While the Institute has the capability of developing most of the hardware necessary for its microsatellite program, it lacks the facilities for environmentally testing a complete spacecraft, and for KITSAT-3 is depending upon the nearby Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) for this.


The Satellite Technology Research Center of KAIST is an interdisciplinary research center funded principally by the Ministry of Science and Technology for training scientists and engineers in space research. Its program includes the construction and operation of microsatellites at a rate that is targeted at every two years.

Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian