S. Korea readies for delayed rocket launch

Posted at 11/20/12 3:40 PM

SEOUL - South Korea is set to go ahead next week with a delayed rocket launch as it aims to join the elite club of nations capable of putting a satellite into orbit, an official said Tuesday.

The project has been plagued with problems, with failed attempts in 2009 and 2010, and a successful launch this time is considered crucial to South Korea's commercial space ambitions.

A 140-tonne rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), will deploy a small satellite that will mainly collect data on space radiation.

The latest launch had been scheduled for October 26, but was cancelled at the last minute after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in a connector between the launch pad and the first stage of the carrier rocket.

Kim Yeon-Hak, a deputy director at the Science Ministry, said a replacement for the defective part had finally been shipped from Russia, allowing the launch to go ahead.

"Engineers from Russia and South Korea met on Monday and agreed it would be technically appropriate to carry out the launch on November 29," Kim told AFP.

The KSLV-1 has a first stage manufactured by Russia, with a solid-fuel second stage built in South Korea.

The 100 kilogram (220-pound) satellite it will carry has a one-year operational lifespan and was developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

In 2009, the carrier rocket achieved orbit, but faulty release mechanisms on its second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite.

A 2010 effort saw the carrier explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea blaming each other.

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