South Korea on Thursday scrapped an attempt to fire its first satellite into orbit from its own soil amid speculation that North Korea was preparing to fire its own long-range rocket.
Scientists in South Korea cited technical problems with the rocket’s flight control system. It’s the second time in a month that Seoul has been forced to cancel a launch at the last minute as it attempts to join an elite group of nations that have launched satellites from their own land.
But it is North Korea’s rocket program that has raised worry in recent days. Two South Korean officials said Thursday that there are signs of preparations at a North Korean rocket site on the northwest coast.
A North Korean long-range rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff in April, but the attempt drew United Nations condemnation and worsened already tense relations between the Koreas.
Washington and Seoul say Pyongyang uses such rocket launches to develop missiles that could target the United States. Technology employed in scientific rocket launches can be easily converted into use for missiles.
North Korea says its launch attempts are part of a peaceful space program and are meant to put satellites into orbit.
South Korea has launched domestically-made satellites aboard foreign-made rockets from other countries since 1992.
South Korea’s 142-ton Naro’s first stage is built by Russia. Its South Korean-made second stage is meant to release a scientific satellite once it reaches orbit.
via North Korea rocket launch speculation overshadows cancelled South Korean satellite launch – The Washington Post.
I am a little curious.
Why is South Korea, a country in the US sphere of influence, chasing Russia for this technology? Could this technology not be developed in collaboration with the West. There are no sanctions by the West on South Korea.
S Korea’s space program also proves that probably alliances and diplomacy count for as much as industrial depth and capacity. Korea’s industry depth is definitely greater than India’s – yet it is struggling in its space program. Also makes one understand what Indian scientists and diplomats have managed with years of sanctions by the US.
Seoul wants to make another attempt to send the satellite into space between November 9 and 24 after last month’s rocket launch was cancelled because of a defective part.
“We’ve been asking Russia to give a green light at the earliest possible date, but we don’t know when we will have the parts,” Kim Yeon-Hak, a deputy director at the science ministry, told AFP.
The October 26 launch was cancelled after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in the connector between the launch pad and the rocket’s first stage.
Kim Seung-Jo, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said the parts must arrive no later than Wednesday if the rocket is to be launched on or before November 24.
After two failures in 2009 and 2010, the upcoming exercise is considered crucial for South Korea’s efforts to join an elite space club that includes China, Japan and India.
It will take at least 10 days after the parts arrive to refit the rocket and put it back on the launch pad on the south coast, Kim Seung-Jo said Monday.
Should the launch be put off again, South Korea would reset the period through consultations with international space agencies, he said. Dates for the launch period are conveyed to international agencies to minimise risks to ships and aircraft that could pass near the flight path.
The 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) has a first stage manufactured by Russia and a solid-fuel second stage built by South Korea. The technical problem that aborted last month’s launch was not described as serious but the damaged rubber seal was sent back to its Russian manufacturer for inspections.
After two failures in 2009 and 2010, the upcoming exercise is considered crucial for South Korea’s efforts to join an elite space club that includes Asian powers China, Japan and India.
In 2009 the rocket achieved orbit but faulty release mechanisms on the second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite. The 2010 effort saw the rocket explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea blaming each other.
South Korea is a late entrant into the world of space technology and is eager to get its commercial launch programme up and running.
via S.Korea urges Russia to send rocket parts swiftly.