October 22, 2021 09:08
Korea succeeded in launching its first homegrown space rocket on Thursday, but failed to place a dummy satellite into orbit.
The Nuri was launched at 5 p.m. from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Gyeongsang Province and reached its targeted trajectory of 700 km. But the 7-ton engine in the third-stage rocket shut off 46 seconds faster than planned, and the payload therefore failed to attain a speed of 7.5 km/s necessary to stay in orbit.
The Nuri is a three-stage rocket designed to place a 1.5-ton satellite in orbit at an altitude of 600 to 800 km. Korea spent W1.96 trillion developing the rocket since March of 2010 (US$1=W1,178).
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute and 300 civilian companies participated in the development of the Nuri, which has 370,000 components and stands 15 stories tall.
The launch was delayed by an hour because more time was needed for last-minute inspections. During the flight of 16 minutes and seven seconds, the first, second and third-stage boosters ignited successfully and the fairing or nose cone of the rocket separated without hitches.
Experts said the Nuri's performance on its maiden launch was a credit to Korea's space technology. "The U.S.' SpaceX program failed three-straight times in test-launches," said Huh Hwan-il at Chungnam National University. "The test launch of the Nuri was almost a success."
The average success rate of space launch vehicles is only 30 percent.
The second launch is scheduled for May of next year with a 200 kg test satellite and a 1,300-kg dummy satellite. Korea plans to conduct four more test launches until 2027 with actual satellites.
President Moon Jae-in watched the launch at the space center and said, "Although the Nuri failed to complete its mission, the first launch was a great achievement."
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