SEOUL, 21 June 2022:
South Korea today successfully launched its Nuri space rocket – an important step for the space industry of the country, which has become one of the 10 in the world capable of launching a satellite in orbit with its own technology.
The rocket was launched in a southerly direction at 4pm local time from the Naro Space Center, about 350km south of Seoul.
After successfully shedding its first and second stages and fairing, its third stage managed to deploy the payload into low-Earth orbit, some 700km-high, about 16 minutes after liftoff.
In addition to four nanosatellites and a dummy 1.3-tonne satellite, Nuri had a verification satellite among its payload – designed to test the rocket’s capabilities and which successfully communicated with the South Korean King Sejong communications station in Antarctica.
In its first launch in October, the rocket, developed and manufactured entirely in South Korea, completed its flight sequence – but then failed to deploy the simulated satellite it was carrying.
“It is a monumental moment for South Korean science and technology. We have successfully launched Nuri,” science minister Lee Jong-ho announced at a press conference at the launch centre.
Lee added that by 2027, the country hopes to have launched four more rockets such as this one with the aim of commercialising this technology and launching satellites for other countries.
The launch, originally scheduled for last week, had to be delayed due to wind first and a sensor failure later.
Nuri, which runs on liquid fuel and weighs about 200 tonnes, has cost almost two trillion Korean won (about US$1.8 billion).
This test makes South Korea one of the 10 countries capable of developing and launching its own spacecraft and also one of the seven capable of putting satellites weighing more than a tonne into orbit – along with Russia, the US, France, Japan, China and India.
With Nuri, Seoul also hopes, among other things, to improve its ability to put better surveillance satellites into orbit that allow it to spy on North Korea.