Hanwha Thrusts Korea into the Space Age
The Korean aerospace industry is a relatively young one, with domestic development only having started in earnest in the 1990s.
Hanwha was there from the very beginning, producing components for the first aircraft assembled in the country. Since then, the company has quickly grown to lead the market in mass production of components and parts as well as playing a major role in the development and production of Korea's first fully homegrown aircraft.
Blasting off to orbit
Now, Hanwha is providing the push for Korea's space program to reach orbit. Working with the Korean Aeronautical Research Institute (KARI), Hanwha is building components for the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV) program.
When Korea's first orbital rocket, the KSLV-I (Naro), was successfully launched in 2013, it was the Thrust Vector Control (TVC) actuation system produced by Hanwha Corporation/Machinery that kept the rocket's second stage on course. The company's homebuilt kick motor also took the rocket's satellite payload into orbit.
Hanwha Corporation/Machinery conducts an ignition test for a KSLV rocket engine
Stepping up to the challenge
KARI is now in the midst of development and testing of components that will go into KSLV- II (Nuli), which is planned to launch in 2021. Designed to take payloads weighing up to 1,500 kg into orbit, KSLV-II is a much larger and more complex rocket than KSLV-I, with the first stage alone needing four 75-ton engines just to take it part of the way up.
Throughout the rocket, in the drive controls and thruster systems, are valve components produced by Hanwha. These will keep the rocket flying while withstanding the extreme stresses of launch. The Hanwha-produced TVCs, meanwhile, will physically adjust the direction of thrust of the rocket's powerful engines during its trip to space.
Through its contributions to the rocket program, Hanwha is aiming to help KARI move forward in its long-term goal of turning Korea into an Asian hub for orbital launches.
Interview with Sangjoon Park, Head of Hanwha Corporation/Machinery's
Aerospace Division Asan Plant #1 Sangjoon Park showcases components produced for the KSLV rocket program
How do you see the aerospace industry developing in the future
There is a term that's being used throughout the global aerospace industry: More Electric Aircraft (MEA).
In theory, electric aircraft are much simpler designs. Traditional planes require complex tubing, combustors, and pumps for their fuel systems. This usually translates to more weight and a lot more moving parts where something might fail.
An electric plane wouldn't need any of that. A power source can plug directly into the engines. Electric planes are theoretically simpler to build and maintain as well as significantly lighter.
That seems like an exciting opportunity
It is. And it's one that's almost completely unexplored. A lot of research and development is necessary before an electric aircraft can become feasible for the commercial market. Hanwha is ready and up for the challenge. We're looking into what needs to be done. Right now, the market is wide open and there's an incredible opportunity for whoever can first realize the concept.
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