S. Korea Launches Homegrown Space Rocket in 2nd Such Attempt

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) —
South Korea’s domestically produced Nuri space rocket lifts off from its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Korea, Tuesday. (Mandatory credit Korea Pool/Yonhap via REUTERS)

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

A successful launch would boost South Korea’s growing space ambitions but also prove it has key technologies to build a space-based surveillance system and bigger missiles amid animosities with rival North Korea, some experts say.

The three-stage Nuri rocket carrying what officials call a functioning “performance verification” satellite blasted from South Korea’s only space launch center on a small island off its southern coast at 4 p.m. Live footage showed the rocket with a national flag rising into the air with bright flames and above thick white smokes.

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

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

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

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