[Photo by Pool Photo]
The South Korean government will spend 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion) on building a next-generation space launch vehicle with an aim to put a lunar landing module in space in 2031.
The Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced that the next-generation space launch vehicle project was selected for a preliminary feasibility study to succeed South Korea`s first independently developed launch vehicle Nuri.
Nuri, which was launched in October last year, completed its full flight sequence but was unable to put a dummy satellite in orbit.
Space launch vehicle is a must-have to independently explore Earth’s orbit and other parts of space such as the moon and Mars. The government hopes to launch a lunar landing module on the launch vehicle into orbit in 2031.
A total of 1.93 trillion won, including 1.92 trillion won from state coffers and 14 billion won from private capital, will be invested in the project from 2023 to 2031.
The launch vehicle will be developed as a two-stage rocket using liquid oxygen and kerosene. The first stage of the launch vehicle will be equipped with five reusable clustered 100-ton multistage liquid combustion cycle engines. The second stage will include two 10-ton multistage liquid combustion cycle engines with multiple ignition capabilities and thrust control.
Although this is a two-stage rocket unlike Nuri, which was a three-stage rocket, the rocket thrust has become more powerful.
The next-generation launch vehicle will be designed to send 10 tons of cargo to the low Earth orbit (LEO), located 600 km to 800 km from Earth, and 1.8 tons of cargo to the lunar exploration and landing module orbit.
The next-generation launch vehicle will be developed jointly from the initial stages of design to the final launch with Korea Aerospace Research Institute and a private institution that will be selected later.
“We hope that this project will enhance the development capacity of the private sector as this is the first launch vehicle project where a private partner is participating from the initial design stage,” said Kwon Hyun-joon, the Director-General of Space, Nuclear and Big Science Policy Bureau at MSIT.
By Lee Sae-bom and Susan Lee
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