South Korea prepares test of 1st domestically made space rocket

South Korea was getting ready to test-launch its first domestically produced house rocket Thursday in what officers describe as an essential step in its pursuit of a satellite tv for pc launch program.

If climate and different situations prevail, the three-stage Nuri rocket was anticipated to be launched at round 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) with an goal to ship a dummy payload — a 1.5-ton block of chrome steel and aluminum — into orbit 600 to 800 kilometres (372 to 497 miles) above Earth.

The launch was initially scheduled an hour earlier however was delayed as a result of engineers wanted extra time to look at some valves contained in the rocket, South Korean Vice Science Minister Yong Hong-taek advised reporters. He mentioned no issues have been instantly discovered however the launch may nonetheless be moved relying on wind and different situations on the deliberate time for blastoff.

Engineers had accomplished erecting the 47-metre (154 foot) rocket Wednesday night time on a launch pad on the Naro Area Middle, the nation’s lone spaceport, on a small island off its southern coast.

After counting on different international locations to launch its satellites because the early Nineties, South Korea is now making an attempt to grow to be the tenth nation to ship a satellite tv for pc into house with its personal know-how.

Officers say such a capability could be essential for the nation’s house ambitions, which embody plans for sending extra superior communications satellites and buying its personal army intelligence satellites. The nation can be hoping to ship a probe to the moon by 2030.

Nuri is the nation’s first house launch automobile constructed totally with home know-how. The three-stage rocket is powered by 5 75-ton class rocket engines positioned in its first and second phases.

Scientists and engineers on the Korea Aerospace Institute plan to check Nuri additional, together with conducting one other launch with a dummy gadget in Might 2022, earlier than making an attempt with an actual satellite tv for pc.

South Korea had beforehand launched an area launch automobile from the Naro spaceport in 2013, which was a two-stage rocket constructed primarily with Russian know-how. That launch got here after years of delays and consecutive failures — the rocket, named Naro, reached the specified altitude throughout its first check in 2009 however did not eject a satellite tv for pc into orbit, after which exploded shortly after takeoff throughout its second check in 2010.

It wasn’t clear how North Korea, which had been accused of utilizing its house launch makes an attempt in previous years as a disguise for growing long-range missile know-how, would react to Thursday’s launch.

Whereas pushing to develop its nuclear and missile program, the North had proven sensitivity about South Korea’s rising protection spending and efforts to construct extra highly effective conventionally armed missiles.

In a speech to Pyongyang’s rubber-stamp parliament final month, North Korean chief Kim Jong Un accused the U.S. and South Korea of “destroying the steadiness and stability” within the area with their allied army actions and a U.S.-led “extreme arms buildup” within the South.

Whereas Nuri is powered by liquid propellants that should be fueled shortly earlier than launch, the South Koreans plan to develop a solid-fuel house launch rocket by 2024, which presumably may very well be ready for launch extra shortly and likewise be more economical.

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