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S. Korea expected to launch space rocket on Jan. 25

Jan. 13, 2013 - 14:30 By 양승진

  South Korea is expected to try again to launch its space rocket later this month after successfully conducting experiments to check if all systems are working properly, a government source said Sunday.

   The official said South Korean and Russian researchers are expected to discuss results of repairs made to the rocket late last year and touch on the present state of the Naro-1 rocket. He added Seoul successfully carried out combustion tests on the kick motor on the locally built second stage solid fuel rocket, making it likely that the launch will take place soon.

   The rocket, also called the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), was built jointly by Russia and South Korea, since Seoul does not have the necessary knowhow in the space development field.

Russia made the main first stage liquid fuel rocket, with South Korea making the second stage and the satellite.

   "The Naro launch management committee meeting planned for this week will set the exact date for the launch, and barring unexpected events such as adverse weather conditions, the date will probably be set for the 25th," the government source said.

   The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which is in charge of the country's space program, said diagnostics have already been completed on the repairs carried out after unexpected faults caused the countdown to be put on hold on Nov. 29. Last year's launch attempt was the third time the country has tried to send a space rocket into space from its soil.

   It said once a date is set, the first and second stages of the

KSLV-1 rocket can be reassembled and taken out to the launch pad at the Naro Space Center on Oenarodo Island off South Korea's southwestern coast.

   South Korea has spent more than 502 billion won ($475.3 million) since 2002 on the rocket project, although its first two attempts failed to place a satellite into orbit. The first launch that took place in 2009 failed because of a malfunction in the fairing assembly on the tip of the rocket, while the second that lifted off in 2010 blew up during its ascent stage. (Yonhap News)