S. Korea readies new bid to join global space club



Graphic showing South Korea’s Naro Space Center, launch site for a rocket, set to blast off on Friday in the nation’s third attempt to join the space club of nations. AFP

SEOUL – South Korea held a final dress rehearsal Wednesday for its third attempt to send a satellite into orbit and join an elite space club that includes Asian powers China, Japan and India.

After two previous failures in 2009 and 2010, the 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-I) is scheduled to blast off some time after 4:00pm (0700 GMT) Thursday from the Naro Space Center on the south coast.

Success will mean a huge boost for South Korea, a late entrant into the high-cost world of space technology and exploration desperate to get its commercial launch programme up and running.

Wednesday’s preparations included launch simulations of both the rocket’s Russian-built first stage and the South Korean-built second stage.

The launch had initially been scheduled for October 26, but it was cancelled at the last minute after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in a connector between the launch pad and the first stage.

A long delay ensued as the faulty seal was sent to the Russian manufacturer to be replaced.

“What matters is whether we succeed, not how fast we can launch the rocket,” said Science Minister Lee Ju-ho.

Seoul’s space ambitions were restricted for many years by its main military ally the United States, which feared that a robust missile or rocket programme would accelerate a regional arms race, especially with North Korea.

South Korea’s space budget for 2012 is around $200 million, according to the Science Ministry — a paltry sum compared to the billions being pumped in by governments in Beijing, Tokyo and New Delhi.

Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s launch, South Korea insists it remains committed to developing a totally indigenous three-stage, liquid-fuelled rocket capable of carrying a 1.5-tonne payload into orbit by 2021.

In 2009, the rocket achieved orbit but faulty release mechanisms on the second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite.

The second effort in 2010 saw the rocket explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea pointing the finger of blame at each other.

The KSLV-I will carry a small, 100 kilogram (220-pound) Science and Technology Satellite-2C (STSAT-2C) developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

The satellite, which has a one-year operational lifespan, will mainly collect data on space radiation.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Danny Bravo

    kahit  city  ang  itayo  sa  space  walang  makakatakas  sa  funishment  kapag  may  sentensiya  ka  na  wala  kang  tatakbuhan ,,,  kung  yung  mga  alien  sa  lawak  ng  universo  huling  lahat,,tao  pa  kaya  na  may  baga ?  eh !!

    • Le Commentor

      I suddenly had brain cancer when I read your post…

      • Michael Barnoli

         I can’t help but crack my jaw lol on this comment.

  • wakats

    I wish our friends success on their endeavor to join the elite group of space club.  If successful, their counterpart in the north cannot bully them anymore. 

    The south koreans have the right to defend themselves against the belligerence of their northern brothers… 

  • http://twitter.com/gemaramil Karlos Aramil

    ayon sa balita, tatama raw ang debri sa parte ng Pilipinas na which is nakalimutan ko na bicol region, ata.. I wonder nasan na kaya yung mga “patriyotikong” Pilipino na nagsisigaw ng “defend sovereignty” nung nagpalipad ang N. Kor. bakit nawala sila sa eksena? So, may exception pala ang pagdepensa sa soberanya?

  • ramelatilano

    tutulong dyan si gohan…..para maayos…sana ang pilipine leaders later na papalit kay pnoy may ganun ding hangarin rather yung manatili sa pwesto at pagnanakaw ha ha ha

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