Footage of Naro Rocket Mission Shows Moment of Failure

      May 31, 2010 11:34

      Korea's space agency has assembled a home-grown rocket with 10 days to go before a scheduled second launch after the first one failed to put a satellite into orbit. It also released new video footage containing crucial moments of the first mission and present preparations for the second launch, in an apparent effort to show that the lessons have been learned. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute unveiled the footage on Sunday.

      The images of the first Naro launch were taken by two cameras on the upper half of the rocket and contain about three minutes of pictures from the moment the fairings split (216 seconds after lift-off) until the satellite payload was ejected (540 seconds after lift-off). They show the right fairing splitting off successfully at 216 seconds but the left fairing failing to split. The first stage of the Naro separates some 20 seconds later at 233 seconds and the rocket continues its ascent as the second engine ignites at 395 seconds.

      From left, the left fairing does not come off from the Naro 216 seconds after lift-off in August 2009; the first-phase rocket separates; and the Naro spins out of control. /Courtesy of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute

      But the rocket loses balances and begins to spin out of control as the second engine shuts off at 455 seconds due to the imbalance caused by the rogue fairing. The left fairing finally separates when the satellite payload ejects at 540 seconds, resulting in a failure to enter the projected orbit.

      Scientists already analyzed the footage and completed mechanical and electrical tests of the fairings before assembling the first and second stages of the new rocket on May 19. The control center will go into operation two days before the scheduled launch.

      An official said the footage was kept under wraps so far in view of relations with Russia, which contributed part of the technology, and security concerns, but the agency decided to unveil it to show that the first launch went smoothly except for that one hitch. "We're going to make sure the same mistakes are not repeated," the official added.

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