South Korea to launch homegrown rocket after delay

By AFP   May 24, 2023 | 11:10 pm PT
South Korea to launch homegrown rocket after delay
South Korea’s domestically produced Nuri space rocket lifts off from its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Korea, June 21, 2022. Mandatory credit Korea Pool/Yonhap via Reuters
South Korea will launch its homegrown Nuri rocket on Thursday, officials said, a day after it was forced to postpone due to a technical glitch just hours before lift-off.

It will be the third launch of the Nuri, which successfully put test satellites into orbit last year after a failed 2021 attempt saw the rocket's third-stage engine burn out too early.

Wednesday's launch was called off after a communication error between the launch control computer and another computer managing the launch pad was detected.

That problem was solved Thursday morning, according to officials, who said the Nuri was now good to go.

"The Ministry of Science and ICT made the final decision to proceed with launch operation procedures with the goal of launching at 18:24 (0924 GMT) today," vice minister Oh Tae-seog said.

The three-stage rocket, more than 47 meters (155 feet) long and weighing 200 tonnes, will be launched from the Naro Space Center in South Korea's southern coastal region.

In previous tests, the rocket carried payloads mainly designed for verifying the performance of the launch vehicle.

This time, the rocket was to be topped with eight working satellites, including a "commercial-grade satellite", according to the science ministry.

"The third launch is aimed at putting a domestically developed satellite with observation missions into the target orbit," Ko Jeong-hwan, director of the Nuri rocket project at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), told reporters earlier.

The 180-kilogram NEXTSat 2 satellite, developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, is meant to be placed into orbit at an altitude of 550 kilometres, KARI said.

The satellite has a small synthetic aperture radar that can capture high-resolution images regardless of weather conditions.

The three-stage Nuri rocket has been a decade in development at a cost of two trillion won ($1.5 billion).

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