South Korea launches a domestic space rocket in a second such attempt


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South Korea launched its first domestic space rocket on Tuesday in the country’s second attempt, months after its earlier take-off failed to place a payload into orbit.

A successful launch will boost South Korea’s growth space ambitions, but also proves it has key technologies to build a space surveillance system and larger missiles amid hostility to rival North Korea, some experts say.

The three-level Nuri rocket carrying what officials call a functioning “performance test” satellite blown up by South Korea’s only space center. small island off its south coast at 4 p.m.

Officials are due to announce the results of the launch later Tuesday.

In the first attempt last October, the rocket’s fictitious payload reached the desired altitude of 700 kilometers (435 miles), but did not enter orbit because the rocket’s third-stage engine burned out earlier than planned.

If Tuesday’s launch is successful, South Korea will become the 10th nation in the world to launch a satellite into space with its own technology.

South Korea, the world’s 10th largest economy, is a major supplier of semiconductors, cars and smartphones to global markets. But its space development program lags behind that of its Asian neighbors China, India and Japan.

North Korea put its first and second Earth observation satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016, although there is no evidence that any of them ever transmitted remote-based images and data at home. These North Korean launches called for UN economic sanctions because they were seen as a cover for testing the country, banned at long distances. rocket technology.

Since the early 1990s, South Korea has sent numerous satellites into space, but all from overseas launch sites or aboard a rocket built with foreign technology. In 2013, South Korea successfully launched a satellite for the first time from its land, but the first stage of the launch was made by the Russians.

After taking off on Tuesday, South Korea plans to conduct four more Nuri missile launches in the coming years. He also hopes to send a probe to the moon, build next-generation space rockets and send large-scale satellites into orbit.

South Korean officials say the Nuri missile has no military targets.

Transfer of a launch into space technology is strictly limited under the multilateral export control regime as it has military application. Experts say that ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles have similar bodies, engines and other components, although the missiles require re-entry and other technologies.

“If you put a satellite on top of a rocket, it will become a space launch vehicle. But if you mount a warhead on it, it becomes a weapon,” said Kuon Yong Soo, a former professor at the Korean National Defense University in South Korea. . “If we succeed in launching Nuri, it really makes sense, because we also succeed in the test of a long-range missile that can be used to build a long-range missile.”

Lee Choon Geun, an honorary researcher at the South Korean Institute of Science and Technology Policy, said it was difficult to use Nuri directly as a rocket because it uses liquid fuels, which must be maintained at extremely low temperatures and take much longer. for refueling from solid fuels. . He said North Korean long-range missiles were also being used liquid fuelsbut extremely toxic, which are maintained at ordinary temperatures and need faster charging times than Nuri’s.

This year, North Korea fired about 30 long-range missiles that put the continental United States and its regional allies, such as South Korea and Japan, at bay.

Kuon said Nuri’s successful launch in Nuri would prove that South Korea also has the ability to send a spy satellite in orbit.

South Korea does not currently have its own military reconnaissance satellites and is dependent on US spy satellites to monitor strategic facilities in North Korea. South Korea has said it will launch its own surveillance satellites soon.

South Korea is conducting a successful test of a rocket engine

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