The government has decided to ask Russia for help in a third launch attempt of a satellite-carrying rocket. Kim Young-sik, a deputy minister at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, on Wednesday said, "The Korea Aerospace Research Institute plans to ask Russia for assistance in a third launch under the contract with Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in 2004 if either of the two launch attempts of the Naro fails." He added the two countries will talk after the summer break about a third launch.
It remains to be seen whether Russia will come on board. In August last year, when the first launch attempt failed, Russia claimed that because its first-stage engine operated normally, the launch was a "partial success." After the second failed attempt last week, Russian technicians said the first-stage engine had functioned normally until communication was cut off.
The ministry said there is no realistic means to force Russia to fulfill the contract if it refuses. If no third launch attempt is made at all, Korea could withhold some of the payment, the ministry added.
"When the contract on the Naro's launch was signed in 2004, the Korean government didn't settle the US$210 million in lump sum," Kim said. "So if no third launch materializes we'll hold on to 5 percent or $10.5 million."
That right is stipulated in a proviso clause of the contract, the ministry said. If the two countries reach agreement on this matter, a third launch attempt for the Naro is expected about a year from now.