Korea's first space launch rocket failed to put the Science and Technology Satellite-2 into its targeted orbit when one of the protective satellite covers known as the payload fairings failed to separate, scientists have concluded. The fairings were manufactured by Korean firms based on a design drawn by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, with Russia providing technological support.
"As a result of an investigation by the joint Korean-Russian flight test committee, we presume that after the blastoff, the first and second-stage rockets and the satellite separated successfully," Second Vice Minister of Education, Science and Technology Kim Jung-hyun told reporters at the Naro Space Center on Wednesday. "But the launch failed to put the satellite into orbit due to the fairing's failure to separate."
Kim said even though it ignited, the second-stage rocket could not accelerate to adequate ascent speed because the second fairing, which weighs four times as much as the STSAT-2, stayed on. "We presume that the satellite failed to enter the Earth's orbit and fell to Earth," he added.
KARI showed video footage filmed by the camera in the second-stage rocket on the day of blastoff. It shows the second fairing still alongside the satellite at the upper end of the second-stage rocket right after the first one separated.
Asked why he did not mention the problem at a press briefing held right after the blastoff on Tuesday, Kim said, "We were unable to reach a conclusion based on circumstantial evidence alone and were supposed to evaluate the entire situation based on complete data."
The ministry did not say whether there will be another launch. According to the contract, there are to be two launches of the KLSV-1 or Naro rocket, this time and next May. If one of the two attempts fails, Korea is supposed to get another first-stage rocket from Russia without additional charge.
"Under the contract, we're responsible for the fairings, but the two sides will find a solution jointly because Russia is in charge of general technological support," Kim added.