Recently, Korean Air announced the company will develop common bulkhead propellant tanks for smallsat launch vehicles as part of the Ministry of Science and ICT’s “Space Pioneer” project.
The Ministry of Science and ICT plans to invest a total of KRW 211.5 billion by 2030 in the “Space Pioneer” project that aims to strengthen the global competitiveness of the domestic aerospace industry by reducing dependence on overseas products.
With a budget of KRW 32 billion, Korean Air has formed an industry and academic consortium with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, NDT Engineering & Aerospace and Korea Aerospace University to develop common bulkhead propellant tanks for smallsat launch vehicles by 2026. The common bulkhead propellant tank combines fuel and oxidizer tanks into a single tank using the latest metal welding and insulation technology. This new technology will increase the competitiveness of the smallsat launch vehicle market in Korea, as it will reduce the number of satellite launch vehicle parts, simplify structures, decrease vehicle weights by 30%, and cut down production costs.
The common bulkhead propellant tank is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of sending 500 kg small- and medium-sized satellites or smallsat constellations into LEO.
On June 23, 20 engineers and officials from Korean Air, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, and NDT Engineering & Aerospace gathered at the Korean Air R&D Center in Daejeon to discuss development plans, a future roadmap and the scope of cooperation.
Korean Air will manage the risk and quality assurance system as well as testing and evaluation for certification. The developed common bulkhead propellant tank will be used as a major component of a 500 kg smallsat launch vehicle, which is to be developed by Korean Air and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
In 2012, Korean Air developed and assembled Korea’s first space launch vehicle, Naro (KSLV-1), and the company has core technology capabilities such as aircraft system integration and aircraft structure development.