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Korea`s 1st Rocket Launched, But Satellite Lost

Posted August. 26, 2009 08:21,   


Korea`s first rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 or Naro-1, was launched yesterday on its eighth attempt from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, at exactly 5 p.m.

The historic event soon went sour, however. After being separated from the first-stage rocket, the rocket delivered the satellite it was carrying far above its intended orbit nine minutes after blastoff.

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry called the launch “partially successful” after the rocket’s propellants operated properly and the 100-kilogram satellite was separated. The domestically-built Science and Technology Satellite-2, however, failed to enter the desired orbit.

Korea thus failed to become the world’s 10th country to use its own technology to put a satellite into orbit. The satellite was to have orbited the earth 13 to 14 times a day for two years to research and monitor the environment.

When the countdown sequence began, tension was high at the launch control center inside the aerospace institute, where Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and other government officials waited along with researchers.

When the countdown approached eight minutes before liftoff, the time when last week’s launch was abruptly suspended, the tension reached its peak.

Three minutes and eight seconds before the launch, the first engine was ignited and the rocket slowly lifted off from the launch pad. The rocket soon rapidly soared into the air and turned south 33 seconds after blastoff.

The rocket was separated from a fairing protecting the satellite and the first-stage rocket, which contained liquid fuel. Nine minutes after liftoff, the rocket put the satellite into orbit at an altitude of 360 kilometers.

When TV monitors at the center showed the separation, government officials and researchers applauded in joy.

Preparations for the launch also proceeded under a tense atmosphere. With clouds forming in the west in the morning, a lightning warning was issued. Several experts predicted another delay after a warning was issued that the International Space Station and space waste will approach the rocket’s orbit.

The rocket measured 33.5 meters in length and 2.9 meters in diameter and weighed 140 tons. The development of the two-stage rocket cost Korea 502.5 billion won (403 million U.S. dollars). The first-stage rocket containing liquid fuel was developed by Russia and the second stage using solid fuel was developed by Korea.

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