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Homegrown Nuri rocket set for 2nd launch on June 15

Korea’s performance test satellite to be loaded on homegrown launch vehicle

May 25, 2022 - 15:09 By Kan Hyeong-woo
Nuri Rocket, South Korea‘s first homegrown satellite launch vehicle, blasts off from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province on Oct. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)
The second launch of South Korea’s homegrown Nuri rocket will take place on June 15, about eight months after its first blastoff failed to complete its mission in October last year, the Ministry of Science and ICT said Wednesday.

The launch control committee, composed of officials at the Science Ministry and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, left a window of backup launch dates open from June 16 to 23 in case of bad weather or other issues that could hinder the planned blastoff.

According to the ministry, the KARI has completed putting together the first and second stages of the indigenous three-stage rocket after it made technical improvements at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province.

The KARI is currently in the preparation process of loading a performance test satellite, which will carry the country’s three core space technologies of heat-generating battery, control moment gyroscope and S-band antenna on the Nuri rocket’s third stage.

The first launch in October had a dummy satellite instead of the performance test satellite.

Although the space mission had a successful liftoff into an orbit of 700 kilometers above the ground, the rocket’s third stage engine shut down early and the dummy satellite failed to reach sufficient orbital speed for the next step.

After weeks of review, the government in December concluded that the loosening of a fixture, which held the rocket helium tank, stopped Nuri from a successful mission.

The ministry conducted comprehensive safety training to prepare for various contingencies and to secure safety in cooperation with science authorities, military and police personnel, as well as local government officials last week. They tested their responsiveness by going through scenarios of terror attacks, the appearance of unauthorized drones or unidentified ships and oil leakage.

“As we will load the performance test satellite on the Nuri rocket and launch it on our own (rocket) for the first time, the government will do its best to provide support until the end,” said First Vice Minister Oh Tae-seog.

If the second launch is successfully completed, South Korea will become the seventh country in the world with indigenous capabilities to launch a satellite weighing over 1 metric ton into orbit behind China India, Japan, Russia, the EU and the US.