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U.S. Space Command chief in Seoul as two sides deepen space cooperation

U.S. Space Command chief chief Gen. James Dickinson visited with South Korea’s military Monday after the first bilateral summit at the White House. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
U.S. Space Command chief chief Gen. James Dickinson visited with South Korea’s military Monday after the first bilateral summit at the White House. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Space Command chief met with the head of South Korea's military in Seoul after the two countries agreed to strengthen space cooperation at the White House Friday.

Gen. James Dickinson met with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook to discuss partnerships in space from a defense perspective, Yonhap reported Monday.

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The two sides indicated "continued efforts" are needed to maintain "strong deterrence" that could cope with "growing space threats," Seoul's military said, according to the report.

"The two sides discussed ways of cooperation to ensure safe space environments and to advance the [U.S.-South Korea] alliance," the defense ministry said. "They vowed to beef up bilateral space cooperation further down the road."

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Dickinson is in South Korea days after President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in said they would bolster the alliance with cooperation in "civil space exploration, science and aeronautics research."

The countries will cooperate toward South Korea signing the Artemis Accords, the White House statement read.

The Artemis Accords are an international agreement among governments on a U.S.-led effort to return space explorers to the Moon by 2024 or later. The NASA initiative includes plans for the Gateway, an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides critical support for a long-term human return to the lunar surface, according to the U.S. space agency.

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Under Moon, South Korea has been seeking to join the Artemis Accords since 2019, according to News 1. Currently the agreement has been signed by the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, Australia, Luxembourg, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Lee Chang-Yoon, head officer of Space, Nuclear and Big Science Policy at Korea's Bureau of Ministry of Science and ICT, told News 1 that Seoul stands to benefit from joining the agreement.

"Taking the [U.S.-South Korea] partnership to the level of space exploration is of the greatest significance," Lee said. "The details need to be discussed with the United States."

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In March, NASA said it selected a team of scientists to join South Korea's Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter Mission, The mission is scheduled to launch in August 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and orbit the Moon for about a year, according to the space agency.

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