South Korea on Friday successfully placed its first spy satellite into orbit, a little over a week after the nation’s archenemy North Korea did the same.
The satellite was fired into space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. SpaceX captured the successful launch of the mission, known as Korea 425, on video.
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said the satellite was placed into orbit at 10:19 a.m. on Friday, hailing it as a historic first for the country.
“With the successful launch of the first military reconnaissance satellite, the military has secured independent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” the Ministry wrote in a statement.
South Korea plans to send four more satellites up into space by 2025, as part of an existing agreement with SpaceX reached last year.
Seoul has never before owned a surveillance and reconnaissance satellite and has at least partly relied on the U.S. to collect intelligence on North Korea.
North Korea says the placement of its own spy satellite was necessary because the U.S. and South Korea have militarized space already.
Pyongyang failed two times this year to get a spy satellite into orbit but claims to have succeeded in getting the Malligyong-1 up last week atop a ballistic rocket. The satellite has reportedly taken pictures of the White House and the Pentagon.
After the satellite launch in North Korea, South Korea suspended a 2018 agreement that created a no-fly zone around the demilitarized border. The agreement had also pulled both countries back from deploying a full range of military resources there.
Pyongyang responded to the suspension by appearing to completely terminate the agreement altogether and restoring guard posts at the border, which had been removed under the pact.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un celebrated the achievement of the Malligyong-1 last week and heralded in a “new era of space power.”