South Korea is looking to put an unmanned space vehicle on the moon by 2020 with its own rocket, the government announced Tuesday.
In January, Korea successfully launched a scientific satellite into orbit from its own soil with a locally assembled space rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, built in cooperation with Russian scientists.
Korea now aims to complete the development of a three-stage domestically produced space rocket by 2020, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
The ministry released a set of mid- and long-term plans for space technologies following a meeting of the national space committee directly responsible to the president.
The plans include developing its first truly indigenous rocket, the KSLV-2, which can carry a 1.5-ton satellite into outer space by June 2020, and also putting an unmanned vehicle on the moon with the rocket, the ministry said.
The initial plan was to complete the development of KSLV-2 by 2021, but the government decided to shorten the time with a total budget of 1.95 trillion won (US$1.84 billion) over the next seven years, according to the ministry.
The announcement came after the country successfully launched last week its new science satellite from a Russian launch base.
The ministry said it also aimed to develop a series of scientific research satellites with its own technologies.
"We have made significant progress in space technology within a short period of time. But we still lag behind the advanced countries," said Choi Mun-kee, Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning in a statement.
"We need to set mid- and long-term goals as stepping stones to become a space industry powerhouse," he added.