South Korea launches 1st self-made space rocket; watch video

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South Korea launches 1st self-made space rocket;  watch video

South Korea announced on Tuesday that it had successfully launched a domestically-made rocket and put several satellites into orbit, a big step in efforts to boost its space program after a first test failed last year.

The Korean Space Launch Vehicle II, dubbed Nuri, took off from Goheung station at 7:00 GMT (4:00 GMT) and reached the target of 700 kilometers high.

A 162.5kg satellite designed to check the rocket’s performance successfully made contact with a base station in Antarctica after entering orbit, officials said.

The rocket also put a 1.3-tonne satellite and four small satellites developed by universities for research purposes into orbit.

It is the cornerstone of an ambitious space plan by Seoul, which includes the development of 6G networks, the launch of spy satellites and the goal of taking a probe to the moon by 2030.

“The sky of the Korean universe is now open,” Science and ICT Minister Lee Jong-ho told the press, noting that South Korea has become the seventh nation in the world to launch a space vehicle with national technology.

The country’s last rocket, launched in 2013 after several delays and failed tests, had been jointly developed with Russia.

According to the minister, the government wants to turn the country into a “space power” and will launch a lunar orbiter in August.

Developed over a decade at a cost of 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion), the three-stage rocket weighs 200 tons, is 47.2 meters long and has six liquid-fuel engines. It is capable of placing 1.5-ton payloads into orbit at a height of 600 to 800 kilometers above Earth.

Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol attended the launch of his office and vowed to keep his election promise to create a new agency to handle space affairs, according to a statement from his office. “Now the road from our earth to space has been opened,” he said.

The country intends to make four similar launches by 2027.

Tuesday’s launch came eight months after another failed operation.

In October 2021, the three stages of the launch worked correctly, lifting the rocket to 700 kilometers high. The 1.5 ton satellite was also successfully separated, but it was not possible to put another satellite into orbit.

lunar ambitions

​Seoul’s space program has had its ups and downs. The first two launches, in 2009 and 2010, with part of Russian technology, ended up failing.

The second exploded two minutes after it was aired, a fiasco that sparked an exchange of accusations between Seoul and Moscow.

​In 2013, another trial ended successfully, but still included Russian technology in its first phase.

In Asia, the countries with advanced space programs are China, Japan and India, and North Korea was the last to join the group of states capable of launching their own satellites.

The success of the Seoul rocket on Tuesday could pave the way for South Korea to advance its space ambitions,

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