South Korea launched its first domestically developed space rocket on Tuesday, the government said, the country’s second attempt after a launch failed in October last year.
The Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle II, a 200-ton liquid-fueled rocket informally named Nuri, lifted off from the launch site in Goheung at 4:00 PM (0700 GMT).
“Nuri has completed its flight according to plan. Engineers are now analyzing the flight data, which will take about 30 minutes,” said Oh Tae-seok, Seoul’s Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
South Korea’s second test launch of its own space rocket comes eight months after the first test failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit, a setback to the country’s attempt to join the advanced space-faring nations. Close.
All three stages of the rocket worked during its first test in October last year, during which the vehicle reached an altitude of 700 kilometers (430 miles) and successfully separated the 1.5-tonne payload.
But it failed to launch a dummy satellite into orbit after the third stage engine stopped burning ahead of schedule.
On Tuesday, however, it appeared that the launch phase had gone according to plan.
“Nuri severs dummy satellite,” South Korea’s YTN Television reported minutes after the launch, adding shortly after that the launch “appears to be a success.”
In Tuesday’s test, in addition to the dummy satellite, Nuri carried a missile performance verification satellite and four cube satellites developed by four local universities for research purposes.
The three-stage Nuri rocket has been in development for ten years and cost 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion).
It weighs 200 tons and is 47.2 meters (155 feet) long, equipped with a total of six liquid fuel engines.
Asia, China, Japan and India all have advanced space programs, and North Korea, the South’s nuclear-armed neighbor, was the most recent entrant to the club of countries with their own satellite launch capability.
Ballistic and space missiles use similar technology, and Pyongyang launched a 300-kilogram (660-pound) satellite into orbit in 2012 in what Washington denounced as a missile test in disguise.
Even now, only six countries — not counting North Korea — have successfully launched a one-ton payload on their own missiles.
If Tuesday’s launch works, South Korea will become the seventh country in the world to master the technology to launch a space vehicle capable of carrying more than a one-ton satellite.
The South Korean space program has a mixed record: Its first two launches in 2009 and 2010, using partly Russian technology, both ended in failure.
The second exploded two minutes into the flight, with Seoul and Moscow blaming each other.
Finally, a launch in 2013 succeeded, but still relied on a Russian-developed engine for the first stage.
Satellite launches are increasingly reserved for private companies, most notably Elon Musk’s SpaceX, whose customers are the US space agency NASA and the South Korean military.
Tuesday’s test appears to be moving South Korea closer to achieving its space ambitions, including a plan to land a probe on the moon by 2030.
South Korea plans to conduct four more such test launches by 2027.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)