South Korea launches domestically-developed space rocket
SEOUL — South Korea launched its first domestically-developed space rocket on Tuesday, television pictures showed, the country’s second attempt after a launch last October failed.
The Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle II, a 200-tonne liquid fuel rocket informally called Nuri, lifted off from the launch site in Goheung at 4:00pm (0700 GMT), with a commentator saying: “it seems it’s going according to the plan”.
South Korea’s second test launch of its homegrown space rocket comes eight months after the first test failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit, a setback in the country’s attempt to join the ranks of advanced space-faring nations.
All three stages of the rocket worked in the first test last October, with the vehicle reaching an altitude of 700 kilometers (430 miles), and the 1.5-ton payload separating successfully.
But it failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit after the third-stage engine stopped burning earlier than scheduled.
“Nuri separates dummy satellite,” South Korea’s YTN Television reported minutes after lift-off, adding shortly after that the launch “appears to be a success”.
In Tuesday’s test, in addition to the dummy satellite, Nuri carried a rocket performance verification satellite and four cube satellites developed by four local universities for research purposes.
The three-stage Nuri rocket has been a decade in development at a cost of 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion).
It weighs 200 tonnes and is 47.2 meters (155 feet) long, fitted with a total of six liquid-fuelled engines.
In Asia, China, Japan and India all have advanced space programs, and the South’s nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea was the most recent entrant to the club of countries with their own satellite launch capability.