South Korean moon promises ‘Korean space age’ after rocket test fails


GOHEUNG, South Korea, Oct.21 (Reuters) – South Korea’s first nation-built space rocket lifted off Thursday, but failed to fully place a dummy satellite into orbit, giving mixed results for a launch test which represents a major leap for the ambitious of the country. plans of space.

The three-stage KSLV-II Nuri rocket, emblazoned with the national flag, soared on a column of flame from its launch pad at the Naro Space Center at 5:00 p.m. (08:00 GMT).

The Nuri, or “world,” rocket is designed to orbit 1.5-ton payloads 600 to 800 km (370 to 500 miles) above Earth, as part of a larger space effort. broad which envisions the launch of satellites for surveillance, navigation, and communications, and even lunar probes. Read more

President Moon Jae-in, who witnessed the launch from the space center, said the rocket had completed its flight sequences but failed to place the test payload into orbit.

“Unfortunately, we have not fully achieved our goal,” he said in a speech on the site.

Moon congratulated the workers and said that despite the incomplete mission, the project would continue.

“It’s not long before we can launch it exactly into the target trajectory,” he said according to a transcript. “Korea’s space age is approaching. “

Officials said the rocket’s final stage appeared to have stopped 40 to 50 seconds earlier, so the payload did not reach the speed necessary for its target orbit. The cause of the premature shutdown was still under investigation, but it could be a lack of pressure inside the fuel tank, premature control of the control computers. control or other factors, officials said.

“Today’s launch left some disappointment, but it is important because it was the first test of the launcher developed independently with our own technology,” said Minister of Science and Technology Lim Hye- sook, during a briefing. “It is significant to confirm that all major steps of the launch have been completed and that we have secured the core technology.”

KSLV-II NURI rocket launched from its launch pad at Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea on October 21, 2021. Yonhap via REUTERS

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At the end of the briefing, an apparently emotional official bowed and said, “Please support us to make the launch a success in May of next year.”

Overseen by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the 200-ton rocket was moved to its launch pad on Wednesday and set up next to a towering green support structure perched on a launch pad above cliffs. that fall into the sea.

All three stages of the rocket were powered by liquid fuel boosters built by a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, with a group of four 75-ton boosters in the first stage, another 75-ton booster in the second, and a single 7-ton rocket engine in the final stages.

KARI said it plans to make up to five more test launches before the rocket regularly carries real payloads.

The next test is currently scheduled for May 19.

Space launches have long been a sensitive issue on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea faces sanctions for its nuclear ballistic missile program.

South Korea’s plans call for the launch of a range of military satellites in the future, but officials deny that NURI has any use as a weapon.

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

Having its own launcher will give South Korea the ability to determine payload types and launch schedules, and will benefit South Korean companies, officials told Reuters. Read more

Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in Seoul; Editing by Stephen Coates, Clarence Fernandez and Giles Elgood

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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