The three-stage rocket, which is more than 47 meters (154 feet) long and weighs 200 tons, was launched from the Naro Space Center in the country’s southern coastal region at 4 p.m. local time.
It was topped by five satellites that will carry out Earth observation missions, such as atmospheric monitoring, for up to two years, as well as a 1.3-ton pseudo-satellite, according to the country’s science ministry.
“The path from South Korea to space has now been opened,” President Yoon Seok-yeol said after the launch. “It is the fruit of the difficult challenges of the past 30 years. Now, the dream and hope of our Korean people and youth will reach space.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s South Korea mission, only Russia, the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and India had developed a space launch vehicle capable of carrying a satellite weighing more than 1 ton, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). ).
South Korea first attempted to launch a dummy satellite with a Nouri missile last October. The attempt failed when the rocket’s third-stage engine stalled and the dummy satellite failed to reach low Earth orbit.
booming aerospace industry
The first two carrier rocket launches in 2009 and 2010 used Russian-made engines, And both failed to reach orbit. In 2013, South Korea finally succeeded in sending a carrier rocket into low Earth orbit – but this was also developed using Russian technology.
Since 2010, South Korea has invested nearly KRW 2 trillion (about $1.5 billion) in building three phases of nori – which means “world” in Korean. Nuri is the country’s first rocket to use its own technology, opening the door to a host of satellites and future missions.
The Carey Institute reported that 300 South Korean companies were involved in developing the missile.
Earlier, Cary Institute chief Ahn Sang-il said the missile’s success would allow South Korea to become more independent in its space programme.
“In the past, cube-shaped satellites were launched using rockets in other countries, but from this launch, we will have the opportunity to load cube-shaped satellites onto a rocket also made in Korea,” he said at a press briefing in April. “We can launch our satellites according to our needs and at our convenient time from this launch.”
After the failed attempt last year, President Moon Jae-in said South Korea plans to launch the missile five more times by 2027.
The country has other space projects in the works: the first lunar orbiter, developed in partnership with NASA, is expected to launch in August next year. It will orbit the Moon for about a year, marking the first South Korean mission to travel outside Earth’s orbit.
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