South Korea joins the space race with the launch of the first homegrown rocket

South Korea conducted the first test launch of its domestic rocket, following the ranks of the advanced space powers, television images on Thursday showed a Korean satellite launch vehicle II, informally called NURI, which means “peace,” rising upward from the Goheung launch site, accompanied by a plume of flames.

The three-stage rocket, emblazoned with the South Korean flag and carrying a dummy satellite, took off at 16:00 (07:00 GMT) from the Naro Space Center, nearly 500 kilometers (311 mi) south of the capital Seoul.

NURI weighs 200 tonnes, is 47.2 meters (155 feet) long, and is powered by a total of six liquid-fueled engines. It is designed to launch 1.5-tonne payloads into orbits between 600 and 800 km (373-497 miles) above Earth and has a 10-year development time and a cost of 2 trillion won ($ 1.6 billion).

South Korea became the 12th largest economy in the world and a technologically advanced country but lagged behind in the spaceflight world, which became the leader in space travel, where the Soviet Union was the first to launch the first satellite in 1957, followed by the United States. … …

China, Japan, and India have advanced space programs, and nuclear-armed North Korea, neighboring North Korea, launched a 300 kg (660 lb) satellite into orbit in 2012, which Western countries condemned as a disguised missile test, under the supervision of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the NURI rocket was moved to the launch pad on Wednesday and lifted into place.

“All preparations, such as umbilical connection and confidential inspection, have been completed,” the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement space launches have long been a sensitive issue in the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea has faced sanctions over its nuclear ballistic missile program.

South Korea’s plans for the future are to launch an observation, navigation, and lunar probe system by 2030. The program also includes military satellites, but officials have denied that the NURI itself can be used as a weapon.

“One of the biggest initial benefits of this launch system is that it will give South Korea the ability to launch satellites into space that will enable it to have a surveillance system for North Korea – and this will give South Korea the ability to control capabilities North Korea launches ballistic missiles and cruise missiles

“Over the next few years, South Korea plans to develop and launch a series of space launch vehicles from the NARO Space Center, and these launch vehicles will launch small vehicles into a lower orbit, further enhancing South Korea’s space defense capabilities,” he said. added. “This is the plan, and this is the first stage.”

Seoul’s space program has a controversial reputation: the first two launches in 2009 and 2010, which partially used Russian technology, both failed, and the second occurred two minutes later, the first successful launch was in 2013 after several delays and several unsuccessful trials. This missile was also developed jointly with Russia.

Officials told Reuters that having its own launch vehicle would give South Korea the flexibility to define payload types and launch schedules, as well as protect “sensitive” payloads such as spy satellites.

“Rockets are the only vehicle available to mankind to enter space,” Lee Sang-Ryul, director of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, told the South Korean newspaper Chosun Biz.

“The availability of this technology means that we have met the basic requirements to participate in this competition for space exploration.”