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South Korea Launches First Homegrown Rocket

On 21st October 2021, South Korea conducted its first test launch of the domestically-built rocket, joining the ranks of advanced space-faring nations. The rocket is informally called NURI, which means the world, weighs 200 tonnes, is 47.2 metres (155 feet) long, and is fitted with a total of six liquid-fuelled engines. The three-stage rocket had Korea’s flag and was carrying a dummy satellite.  It was launched from the site in Goheung at around 4 pm. The rocket but failed to put its payload into orbit. It is designed to put 1.5-tonne payloads into orbit 600km to 800km (373 miles-497 miles) above the Earth and has been 10 years in development for 2 trillion won which is $1.6bn. The rocket was being advanced under the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). President Moon has admitted the launch fell short of their goals but added: “It’s not long before we’ll be able to launch it exactly into the target trajectory. South Korea is aiming to send a probe to the moon by 2030.

South Korea has risen to be the world’s 12th largest economy and a technologically advanced nation. Although a major task by the country, the Soviet Union (SU) launched the first satellite launch in 1957, followed by the United States (US). China, Japan and India to have advanced space programmes. Seoul’s space programme failed in 2009 and 2010, the second one exploding two minutes into the flight. The first successful launch was in 2013 and came after multiple delays and several failed tests. The rocket was jointly developed with Russia.

Lee Sang-ryul, the director of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute stated that “Rockets are the only means available to mankind to go out into space.” Further, the officials stated that Having its launch vehicle will give South Korea the flexibility to determine payload types and launch schedules, as well as protect “confidential” payloads such as spy satellites. 

South Korea’s has been planning to better its technology in terms of launching surveillance, navigation and landing a lunar probe by 2030. The programme also includes military satellites but the officials have denied these reports. But the ballistic missiles and space rockets use similar technology. Space launches have long been a sensitive issue on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea faces sanctions over its nuclear-armed ballistic missile programme. Also, the country plans to develop and start operating a series of space launch vehicles from the NARO space centre. Then these launch vehicles will be put into the lower orbit. This activity will help advance the space defence capabilities.