President Lee Myung-bak hailed South Korea's first successful launch of a space rocket on Wednesday as the first step toward opening an "era of space science" for the country, his spokesman said.
The launch of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, better known as "Naro," marked Seoul's third attempt to join the global space club after its two earlier attempts in 2009 and 2010 ended in failures.
The rocket blasted off at 4 p.m., reached its target altitude and put a science satellite into orbit.
"I join the people in wholeheartedly celebrating the opening of a new era of space," Lee said in a message read by his spokesman Park Jeong-ha. "I warmly applaud all scientists who have worked hard until Naro was successfully launched."
The success proved the previously unsuccessful attempts were all part of the road to success.
"We took the first step toward opening an era of space science in earnest," he was quoted as saying. "We should make this an opportunity to elevate the Republic of Korea's national power by a notch." (Yonhap)