South Korea successfully launches Nuri, its first Korean-made rocket

The launch window was scheduled for June 16 to June 23. It was Tuesday, June 21 that the Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle II, a 200-ton liquid-fueled rocket Nuri, took off from the Goheung launch site in South Korea at 4:00 pm (0700 GMT) local time. “Everything seems to be going according to plan.” One commenter said.

The rocket was carrying a performance verification satellite, which successfully reached orbit, officials said. In addition, four local universities have built satellites for research. The beginning “Looks like a success” South Korean television YTN reported.

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According to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (CARI), the first phase of the Nuri rocket separates 123 seconds after launch at an altitude of 62 km, then its firing separates and the second phase of the rocket at an altitude of 202 km. 273 kilometers respectively. Performance Verification The satellite was launched at 875 seconds or 14 minutes 35 seconds after launch.

“All stages of the launch took place normally” and the satellites were placed at “planned heights and speeds”, Curry director Lee Sang-riul said.

It took South Korea about ten years to build the rocket at a cost of 2,000 billion won (1.46 billion euros). With six liquid fuel engines, it weighs 200 tons and is 47.2 meters long.

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A launch eight months after the first failure

The launch is South Korea’s second test. It comes eight months after the first failed, where the rocket failed to send its dummy payload into orbit, a blow to Seoul.

All three levels of the rocket worked, bringing it to an altitude of 700 km and successfully separating the 1.5 ton payload. But he failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit, and the third-stage engine stopped working earlier than expected.

“While it did not fully achieve its objectives, we have achieved some great feats with our first launch.” Comment by Moon Jae-in, then President of the Republic of Korea.

The country aims to launch four more Nuri rockets by 2027. It has also begun a preliminary feasibility study for Nuri’s successor with the aim of sending a landing module to the moon in 2031.

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Lagging behind its Asian neighbors

South Korea is the 12th largest economy in the world and one of the most technologically advanced countries, especially its flagship, the Samsung Electronics Group, the world’s largest smartphone and chip maker. But it has always lagged behind in terms of space conquest, where the Soviet Union led the way in launching the first satellite in 1957, which was closely followed by the United States.

In Asia, China, Japan and India have developed advanced space programs. China has been investing billions of euros in its space program for decades. He sent his first astronaut into space in 2003. Since then, he has achieved some notable achievements, especially in recent years. In early 2019, it placed a machine away from the moon, the first in the world. In 2021, he landed a small robot on Mars. It also plans to send astronauts to the moon by 2030.

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Beijing is currently finalizing the construction of its space station. Named after the Chinese Tiangong (“heavenly palace”), also known as CSS (for “Chinese space station” in English), it should be fully operational by the end of the year. It will be similar in shape to the former Russian-Soviet Mir station. Its lifespan should be at least 10 years.

Japan announced in late May that the first Japanese astronaut would be sent to the moon, without setting a timetable. A mission that will be conducted in collaboration with the United States. Tokyo previously aimed for a manned lunar mission by 2030, but its own space program has so far focused on launching satellites and probes.

For India, it is one of the countries that has one of the oldest space programs in the world. New Delhi has launched missions to the moon and Mars and plans to send an Indian citizen into low Earth orbit by 2023.

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(With AFP)