NASA signed a memorandum with KAIST Saturday. NASA said both countries will hold technical discussions on satellite communication, navigation systems, planetary exploration, lunar science, rovers, small satellites, and related technologies.
South Korea created KAIST in 1971. Twenty-one years later, professor Soon-dal Choi led a KAIST research team to launch Korea's first small satellite Uribyeol 1. Since then, the country has launched 10 small satellites, the most advanced being Arirang 2. NASA said the satellite, which began operating in July 2006, can distinguish objects as small as 39.37 inches (one meter) wide on Earth.
About 8,000 students and 442 professors work at eight research institutes in the Daedeok Research Complex, which is 90 miles south of Seoul. The institutes specialize in bioengineering, information technology, ecoenergy, and other fields. KAIST said other areas of interest can be added during future discussions.
NASA Ames Director S. Pete Worden said American researchers at Ames welcome the opportunity to work with South Korea on satellite development to advance space exploration.
KAIST President Nam Pyo Suh called the agreement a historic event for KAIST and NASA.
"KAIST-educated technicians will have opportunities to contribute to NASA programs, while learning new approaches to research and development by working on large NASA projects," Suh said in a prepared statement. "Through this effort, the U.S.-Korea relationship in science, technology, and education will be further strengthened immeasurably."