South Korea Tests First Homemade Space Rocket

South Korea conducted a test launch of its first domestically produced space rocket, Thursday (21/10).

The Nuri rocket launched at around 5pm local time (0800 GMT), carrying the payload dummy weighing 1.5 tons consisting of blocks of stainless steel and aluminum to orbit 600 to 800 kilometers above the Earth.

The launch was originally scheduled for an hour earlier but was delayed because technicians needed more time to check some of the valves inside the rocket, South Korea’s Deputy Science Minister Yong Hong-taek told reporters.

Engineers completed the installation of the 47-meter-tall rocket late Wednesday on the launch pad at the Naro Space Center, the country’s only spaceport, on a small island off its southern coast.

Having relied on other countries to launch satellites since the early 1990s, South Korea is now seeking to become the 10th country to send satellites into space with its own technology. Officials say such capabilities would be critical to the country’s space ambitions, which include plans to send more sophisticated communications satellites and develop its own military intelligence satellite. The country also hopes to send its spacecraft to the moon by 2030.

The Nuri is the country’s first space launch vehicle to be built entirely with domestic technology. The three-stage rocket is powered by five 75-ton class rocket engines.

Scientists and technicians at the South Korean Space Institute plan to further test Nuri, including carrying out another launch with a payload dummy in May 2022, before testing with a real satellite. [ab/ka]

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