By Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi
SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea’s domestically produced area rocket efficiently delivered a commercial-grade satellite tv for pc into orbit on Thursday, the nation’s science minister stated, marking a serious step in its efforts to turn out to be a key participant in an intensifying area race with its Asian neighbours.
The Nuri rocket lifted off from Naro House Heart on the southern coast of South Korea at 6:24 p.m. (0924 GMT) in its third flight after the launch was cancelled a day earlier on account of technical glitches.
Amongst eight satellites that have been aboard the rocket, the principle commercial-grade satellite tv for pc made contact with a base station in Antarctica after efficiently separating from the area automobile, Science Minister Lee Jong-ho stated.
President Yoon Suk Yeol touted the launch as a serious step that locations South Korea among the many high seven international locations which have put domestically produced satellites into orbit with their domestically constructed area launch autos.
“It will tremendously change the way in which the world sees South Korea’s area science expertise and its superior trade,” Yoon stated.
The launch on Thursday was designed to load a commercial-grade satellite tv for pc onto the rocket for the primary time, after the second take a look at in June final yr efficiently put dummy satellites into orbit.
On Wednesday, the ministry had referred to as off a deliberate launch simply hours earlier than the scheduled time, citing technical issues, which officers described as communication errors inside the system that controls a helium tank on the launch pad. They stated that concern was mounted after work in a single day.
The three-stage KSLV-II Nuri is the nation’s first domestically constructed area launch automobile utilizing solely South Korean rocket expertise, and three extra flights are anticipated till 2027.
The Nuri is essential to the nation’s bold plans to jumpstart its nascent area programme and increase progress in 6G networks, spy satellites and even lunar probes.
With a heated arms race in Asia, area launches have lengthy been a fragile concern, and North Korea is gearing as much as launch its first navy spy satellite tv for pc.
Seoul additionally plans to launch navy satellites, however has dominated out any weapons use for the Nuri.
Final week, North Korean chief Kim Jong Un accredited ultimate preparations for a satellite tv for pc launch, with out specifying a date.
Building at North Korea’s satellite tv for pc launching station has hit a “new degree of urgency,” a U.S.-based assume tank stated in a report on Thursday, citing satellite tv for pc imagery.