Go to contents

[Opinion] Liftoff for Space Age

Posted November. 28, 2002 22:31,   


In October 1957, Americans had to witness an epoch-making event that hurt their pride badly. Russians successfully launched the world`s first satellite `Sputnik` into the orbit. Americans fell into a state of shock, realizing that they had lagged behind Russians in the high-tech field of satellites. It was a sense of defeat that came 12 years after the triumphant end of the World War II. President Eisenhower then ordered an educational reform and establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, to catch up with the communist rival. Another 12 years passed. They finally sent Apollo 11 to the moon in 1969 and two Americans, Armstrong and Aldrin, became the first men that landed on the moon.

▷Back in 1957, Americans believed they were far ahead of Russians in rocket technology, which is essential to launch a satellite into the orbit. After the World War II, they gained access to scientists and facilities Germany were using for its secrete V2 rocket project. And the shock came when the former Soviet Union sent off an 83.6kg satellite, which was ten times heavier than what they worked on.

▷The first rocket designed to propel a satellite was first developed by Germany during the World War II. After a defeat in the First World War, Germans, not able to produce conventional weapons such as canons, began to develop a rocket. A group of German scientists including Dr, Phon Brown, successfully lifted off a 13-tonnes rocket to the stratosphere, heralding an era of space shuttles. Brown, who had to correct the drawing 65,000 times to develop a rocket, later moved over to the U.S. and led the country`s effort for space program. ˝If Germany had managed to complete V2 rocket only 6 months earlier, we would have faced a different world,˝ said Gen Eisenhower after the end of the war.

▷Countries across the world have been in fierce competition to develop high-tech rockets since then. Development of rockets is restricted in much part, however, since they can be used for weapons as well as satellite launching. Transfer of rocket technology to other countries is also not allowed. So only 7 countries have so far secured rocket technology. A test launch of the nation`s first liquid-fuel rocket was conducted successfully yesterday. The Aerospace Research Center has been working for the last five years since 1997 to develop the 14m-long 6 ton-weighing rocket. It went up in the air 42km from the ground and flew for 3 minutes and 51 seconds. It is said that the research team has worked for months to prepare a launch pad on the west cost. We hope that we can send a science-mission satellite in 2005 as scheduled by using our own rocket technology, and join the global competition for space exploration.

Park Young-kyun, Editorial Writer, parkyk@donga.com