South Korea’s first fully domestically developed satellite launch vehicle Nuri went into countdown on its Oct. 21 blastoff for a maiden space trip from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla.
The completely assembled rocket, also known as Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II (KSLV-Ⅱ), is now on standby for transport to a launch pad and liftoff on Oct. 21, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).
Nuri is a three-stage, 47.2-meter (155 foot) tall liquid fuel rocket capable of placing a 1.5-ton (3,307 lb) dummy satellite into a 600-800 km (373-497 mile) high low-earth orbit.
With the October flight goes successful, South Korea will become the world’s seventh country with independent capabilities to launch an over 1-ton satellite into orbit from its own soil following the United States, Russia, France, Japan and China among others.
Nuri is boosted by three-stage rockets with four 75-ton liquid engines clustered for Stage 1 flight to the altitude of 59 ㎞, a 75-ton liquid engine for Stage 2 flight to 258 ㎞ and a 7-ton liquid engine for Stage 3 fight to the target orbit of 700 ㎞.
The October flight will mark South Korea’s first domestic orbital launch attempt. In 2013 when Naro-1 (KSLV-Ⅰ) lifted off the ground, the launch was boosted by a Russian-made engine for Stage 1 flight.
Whether Nuri will be successfully launched on the planned date cannot be guaranteed as the blastoff hinges on weather conditions. In the last 10 years, 54, or 6 percent of 948 rocket launches were unsuccessful.
The Nuri launch is of great significance to South Korea, but Korea`s rocket technology still has a long way to go compared to the U.S. where advanced launch vehicle technology, including reusable boosters, are being developed. The local scientific community also raises concerns that follow-up development plans after Nuri have yet to be decided.
By Lee Sae-bom, Lee Jong-hwa and Minu Kim
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