South Korea launched its first spy satellite with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was launched from California, USA, on Friday, the Ministry of Defense announced in Seoul.

Yonhap news agency reported that the South Korean satellite entered orbit “about four minutes after launch”. This is Seoul’s response to the launch of a similar satellite by Pyongyang ten days ago.

The South Korean spy satellite is intended to monitor North Korean activities and – according to Yonhap – has the ability to detect objects as small as 30 centimeters. “Our satellite technology ranks among the top five in the world,” a South Korean defense ministry official said, Yonhap reports.

Seoul plans to launch four more satellites by the end of 2025. Until now, it has relied on US satellites to monitor Pyongyang’s activities, Choi Gil-il, a professor at Sangji University, told AFP. South Korea had already launched a military satellite for telecommunications purposes but, after the launch of a spy satellite by North Korea, it had to respond accordingly, the professor underlines.

Pyongyang claimed a few days ago that thanks to the “Malligyong-1” satellite, it is able to monitor strategically important locations in the US and South Korea, but without making public any relevant images. There had been two failed attempts to launch a spy satellite, in May and August.

Seoul claims Pyongyang received help from Moscow to put the satellite into orbit. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, several Western countries, Japan and South Korea condemned the North Korean satellite launch as a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions because it used ballistic missile technology