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[Newsletter] Perigee Aerospace, a small rocket launch vehicle business

“Space is not simply a scientific domain or an unknown world. The world already deems space to be a huge real economic market. Perigee Aerospace wants to partner with space and thus focuses on small launch vehicles. After all, space is starting to become a powerful platform of the market.”

Kim Su-hwan, CFO of Perigee Aerospace

Ding-dong! Here is a parcel from the space.

The satellites are already present in our everyday lives, such as map services using GPS navigation, various data services using 5G communication networks, etc. For example, the first cellular phone was as big as a brick, but now a smartwatch on a wrist could perform the functions of a cellular phone. Likewise, satellites would continue to become smaller, and thus more and more companies would use space for their businesses. The small-sized space launch vehicle service that Perigee Aerospace is preparing will launch satellites into space.

“Since the Earth is not a perfect sphere, satellites go around it in an elliptical orbit. The term ‘perigee’ means a point on the orbit closest to the Earth’s surface. In other words, the perigee is the point closest to Earth and a starting point for space. Therefore, Perigee Aerospace means the beginning of space and will become the most representative space platform business that links the Earth and space with small launch vehicles.” In the Jeju Aerospace Museum, we met Kim Su-hwan, CEO of Perigee Aerospace, who is convinced that space is not simply an object of fear and respect or a domain to be researched but one of the blue ocean businesses.



Q Like SpaceX in the U.S., the “new space (space industry lead by a private sector)” has begun in Korea, too.

The space industry has been one of the key national industries and a very conservative field where investments of astronomical proportions are required, and various interests, such as politics, economy, national security, etc., are closely intertwined. However, countries advanced in terms of space, such as the U.S., Russia, Europe, etc., endeavor to preoccupy the area, which is a new market for humanity. When it comes to the space industry, people have come up with space shuttles, astronauts, satellites, etc., which are sent to space through launch vehicles. A launch vehicle is like a parcel delivery service that carries items.

Most of the items to be delivered to space are satellites. As technology advances, satellites continue to become smaller. A business strategy of Perigee Aerospace is to develop and commercialize the “small space launch vehicles” customized for small satellites.


Q What is the unique strategy of Perigee Aerospace to navigate space?

The satellite orbits are classified into the geostationary orbit and the low-earth orbit. The existing satellite systems have utilized the geostationary orbit. Since the geostationary orbit moves at a rotation angle speed of the Earth, it looks to be stable and over our heads at all times. The weather forecast, communication, and military satellites are on the 36,000km geostationary orbit over the Earth’s equator. These satellites were loaded in large launch vehicles and then launched into space. Thus, it is difficult to enter the space industry due to enormous costs. However, the market of 500km low-earth orbit became available, as the technology advances rapidly and the commercial satellite market expands. The satellites that have gone into the low-earth orbit improve the resolution of satellite images, the accuracy of GPS, and the reception rate of communication and data. Therefore, Perigee Aerospace will preoccupy the a market of the low-earth orbit. The following companies require a market of small launch vehicles that could contain cube satellites with a weight of 50-500kg: self-driving service businesses; businesses that need more detailed GPS data; contents or communication businesses, etc. Perigee Aerospace will lead a global market by developing and commercializing small launch vehicles and become a space platform company for various businesses related to the space industry.

Toward the space platform of Perigee Aerospace

Q I am curious about the timeline of Perigee Aerospace.

Perigee Aerospace is composed of the following: engineers who hope to make the impossible possible; and staff who support the hope with investment, planning and marketing. Perigee Aerospace was started in 2018 by an undergraduate of the Aerospace Engineering Department in KAIST. It is the only business in Korea that uses a methane-based liquid fuel system, as SpaceX does. It does its utmost to create a global space market by developing high-efficiency engines and small launch vehicles. Perigee Aerospace succeeded, 2 years ago, in a test launch in Yongsu-ri, Hangyeong-myeon, Jeju-si, Jeju-do and will, this year, complete a project that develops improved small launch vehicles. Also, Perigee Aerospace will endeavor to develop the sustainable space industry by not only flying launch vehicles containing satellites into space but also applying the technology that reuses launch vehicles.


Q I heard that Perigee Aerospace is preparing for a special technology listing.

Perigee Aerospace has attracted private investment of KRW 40 billion or more through series A, B, and C investments. Perigee Aerospace is preparing to be listed on KOSDAQ and is securing talent as it grows. Currently, talent who are interested or dream about space would find positions only in national research institutes. Perigee Aerospace will establish a foundation based on the excellent talent who can engage in the aerospace engineering and commercial space industry. Perigee Aerospace believes that it is time for private businesses to appear so that various growth values of the space industry, such as launch vehicles, satellites, satellite services, etc., could be realized for the space industry of Korea to continue to advance in the future. Perigee Aerospace is the first private space business in Korea. The space industry is where the talent in engineering shall settle down. Welcome to the new space!

The encounter of Perigee Aerospace with JEJU is destiny

December 2021 is meaningful for both Perigee Aerospace and JEJU.

Yongsu-ri, in the west of JEJU, faces the sea. A private launch vehicle was launched from the shore for the first time in Korea and meaningful findings were obtained. The demonstration (test launch) is the most important to private launch vehicle businesses, like Perigee Aerospace, and JEJU Province has the optimum conditions. JEJU has shown its will to make JEJU a center of the space industry by announcing the development of a private space industry ecosystem. Perigee Aerospace will actively cooperate with JEJU and communicate with its local residents. Also, Perigee Aerospace is considering the construction of a launch R&D center and launch vehicle maintenance facilities, the relocation of its head office to JEJU, etc. in order to create a stable rocket launch environment.


Q It seems that the space experience, coupled with a tour, will be available in JEJU soon.

The U.S. Kennedy Space Center and the Star Base Launch Pad of SpaceX are space tourist attractions. Thus, it would be possible to see launch vehicles for yourself and experience a launch. In Korea, an aerospace festival is held in Goheung, where the launching site of Nuri-ho is located. Space tourism would create a huge ripple effect in the future, as JEJU, with traditional tourist attractions, is coupled with the private aerospace businesses. Various space businesses would relocate to JEJU, and field trips to the space launching site and the space experience would be available in the future. In this respect, the training of talent and the role of JEJU Aerospace Museum, where this interview was held, would attract more attention.

 Cetacea 1 ©Perigee Aerospace 

JEJU Province announced “5 strategies for developing the JEJU space industry.” JEJU accelerates its effort to preoccupy a space industry through the following: to develop a J-space governance system; to create a space ecosystem; to develop a space industry; to construct the private space infrastructure; and to industrialize space experiences. Perigee Aerospace is also doing its utmost to succeed in the launch of “Blue Whale (BW)-1” in JEJU in the second half of this year. A success in JEJU that has conditions optimal to a space industry would trigger an increase in aerospace start-ups in the future.