South Korea launched its first home-made space rocket, according to television footage, in Seoul’s second attempt in this field after the first failed last October. The design of the $1.5 billion missile took nearly ten years.
On Thursday, South Korea launched its domestically designed “Nuri” rocket, loaded with a commercial satellite that will put it into orbit, in an event that could mark a turning point in South Korea’s highly developed space activities.
The launch of the missile, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed due to a technical problem that occurred minutes before take-off. Officials indicated at the time that the problem was resolved immediately.
This is the third launch of the “Nuri” missile, after a first launch attempt failed before a second attempt succeeded in 2022, which resulted in the missile placing experimental satellites in orbit. The missile carries eight operational satellites, including a “commercial satellite,” according to the South Korean Ministry of Science.
The three-layer “Nuri”, which is 47 meters high and weighs about 200 tons, took off from the Naru Space Center, located on the southern coast of the country.
Five minutes after its launch, the missile reached a height of 300 kilometers, and the process of separating its second section from it was confirmed, then the eight satellites carried by the missile separated, as footage of the launch showed. More than two hundred thousand people watched the event live on YouTube.
The director of the “Nuri” program at the Korean Space Research Institute (KARI), Ko Jeong-hwan, said in a press statement that “the third missile launch aims to put a satellite” designed in South Korea into a specific orbit.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology designed the 180-kilogram satellite called NEXTSat 2. This device is supposed to operate at an altitude of about 550 km, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
The satellite is equipped with a small radar with an artificial aperture that allows obtaining high-resolution images, whatever the weather conditions. The missile, which cost 2,000 billion won ($1.5 billion), took ten years to design.