Friday, June 11, 2010

South Korea's space launch falls short

South Korea is angling to become the world's next space power. Iran was the last (maybe) to join the small group of nations which can launch their own satellites on their own rockets. In recent years, Brazil and North Korea have failed to join the club. (Brazil will try again in 2011).

Nations which have achieved such launches include the aforementioned Iran (although it is not universally agreed their satellite actually made orbit), the U.S,, the defunct USSR, France, Japan, Britain, India, modern Russia and Ukraine, Israel, and China. The ESA organization has a joint capability, and Britain has abandoned its independent national capability to work with ESA.

South Korea, working with Russian help, had a partial success in 2009 (a payload was placed in orbit, but the wrong orbit, and it did not function). The newest version of their Naro booster featured a Russian-built first stage and South Korean upper stages. It appears to be the Russian stage which was the culprit, since failure was apparent 137 seconds into the flight.
South Korea's Science Minister said, ""We humbly accept today's result and will find a remedy to continue our efforts at space exploration."

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