S. Korea's Satellite Fails to Enter Target Orbit
    2009-08-25 21:44:30     Xinhua      Web Editor: Yang Yang

By Na Haejung

South Korea on Tuesday failed to send its satellite, carried by its first space rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), into the target orbit.


After being moved to the launch pad on Sunday, South Korea's KSLV-1 has gone through full, thorough checkups for Tuesday's launch.

After a full launch rehearsal, the engineers in the morning of Tuesday concluded that the rocket was ready for the liftoff.

Weather conditions were also favorable for launch, with a slight breeze and little chance of lightening although there was a chance that clouds may be in the way of the rocket.

Fuel and oxidation injection started around 3:00 p.m. (0600 GMT), which took about one hour, and the automatic 15-minute countdown sequence started at 4:45 p.m. (0745 GMT).

While the previous launch was halted during the automatic sequence, Tuesday's pre-launch steps went on smoothly, and the space rocket lifted off from its launch pad as scheduled.

During the 10-minute flight, the space rocket underwent brisk two-step separations, and the satellite it carried also ignited and got off the second stage as planned.

However, the satellite separation was made 36-km higher than its target altitude.

One hour after the launch, South Korean Science Minister Ahn Byong-man held a press conference, admitting that it lost track of the satellite, saying it appears to have missed the target orbit.

However, it was yet to declare that the satellite was "lost," nor to call the launch a "failure," according to the chief of the space center responsible for the launch.


South Korea's space rocket project started in Aug. 2000, with help from Russia.

Although the rocket development was planned to be completed by 2005, it was postponed to Oct. 2007, then to 2008, and pushed further to 2009.

Although the launch was first scheduled for July 30 and rescheduled for Aug. 19 after twice delays due to technical issues.

The automatic countdown sequence for the Aug. 19 launch went as planned before it was suspended 7 minutes and 56 seconds before ignition for a problem in the high pressure tank that can affect valves in the first-stage rocket.

South Korea has reportedly spent 502.5 billion won (402.4 million U.S. dollars) on developing the KSLV-1 over a seven-year period and some 850 billion won (680.7 million U.S. dollars) on building the Naro Space Center.

The rocket launch, however, had a far greater impact on the local economy, bringing about an economic expansion worth 1.8 to 2. 4 trillion won (1.4 to 1.9 billion U.S. dollars), Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said.


The South Korean government, during an official press conference, said the rocket attempt, although not marking a complete success, could be called a "half success."

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak also said his country has scored a "half success" through the rocket launch, urging renewed and doubled efforts to advance the country's space technology.

"We must realize our dream of becoming a leading country in space technology, even if it takes an eighth attempt after seven failures or a ninth attempt after eight failures," the president was quoted as saying by his spokesman, Lee Dong-kwan.

Local experts, meanwhile, applauded blastoff as planned, but highlighted the exact reason behind the failure should be unveiled for the country's space technology to move forward.

"The launch can be evaluated as 'half success' as the most important point of the current attempt was whether the rocket could take off the ground," said Kim Seung-jo, professor at Seoul's Konkuk University, calling it a 'mistake,' rather than a failure.

The country should move on to grasp the theories to develop the first-stage rocket, which is the core part of the launch, as well as striving to precisely identify why the satellite was not able to make it, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said.

South Korea would have stood as the worlds' 10th country to shoot a locally developed scientific satellite in its territory had it succeeded in the rocket launch.



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