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Blame Game Erupts Over Satellite`s Failure to Achieve Orbit

Blame Game Erupts Over Satellite`s Failure to Achieve Orbit

Posted August. 27, 2009 08:30,   


Was the launch of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, or the Naro-1, a success or failure?

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute called the launch a “half success” Tuesday, and most people agreed at the time.

The majority now believes the launch was a failure in the wake of the ministry’s announcement yesterday that a fairing covering the satellite did not separate after blastoff. The launch vehicle incurred a problem while the satellite payload fell to earth instead of going into orbit.

One expert said, “Strictly speaking, the launch cannot be considered a success since the goal of the Naro-1’s launch was to put the satellite into orbit.”

More than few experts, however, said the launch was a success to a certain extent. Kwon Se-jin, an aerospace engineering professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, said, “The launch can be considered a half success.”

Since the problem occurred in the fairing, however, Russia can take credit for the successful part of the launch.

Lee Chang-jin, an aerospace information system professor at Konkuk University in Seoul, said, “It can be considered a success, though not a clear-cut one.”

“In the eyes of the general public, the launch could be seen as a failure since the launched satellite fell to the earth. Yet the purpose of the Naro-1 was to develop and secure technology and gain launch experience. Hence, the project can be construed as having attained 80 to 90 percent of the original goal.”

Korea and Russia are set to intensify their blame game over who is responsible for the satellite’s failure to go into orbit. For one, the Korean side must acknowledge part of the responsibility since it produced the fairings.

On who should be held accountable, however, South Korean Vice Science and Technology Minister Kim Jung-hyun said, “Russia bears overall responsibility for the launch,” adding the matter must be resolved through joint investigation by the two nations.

Depending on who is held responsible, a decision will be made on whether a third rocket will be launched after next year’s second Naro launch.

The fairing failure could delay the launch of the second Naro in May next year. The same model as the one launched Tuesday, the Naro-2 is complete and the rockets are stored in Russia and the satellite in Korea.

It will take time to correct the problems diagnosed this time, however, while the launch could be Korea’s last trial. The majority of experts say thorough preparations must be made before the next launch.

Vice Minister Kim said, “We will prepare the second launch set for May next year as scheduled.”

Korea Aerospace University professor Jang Yeong-geun, however, said, “There’s no need to hurry to keep the launch schedule,” adding, “Once a space accident occurs, all elements must be rechecked all over again.”

“As such, the Naro-2 must be launched when preparations are perfect after fairings and other parts developed by Korea and the controversial phase-one rocket supplied by Russia are thoroughly rechecked and verified.”