Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

South Korea runs first successful homegrown space rocket launch

The Nuri rocket, the first domestically built space rocket, lifts off from a launch pad at the Naro Space Centre in Goheung, South Korea (Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP)
The Nuri rocket, the first domestically built space rocket, lifts off from a launch pad at the Naro Space Centre in Goheung, South Korea (Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP)

South Korea has successfully launched its first homegrown space rocket, officials said.

The milestone boosted the country’s growing space ambitions but also proved it has key technologies to build a space-based surveillance system and bigger missiles amid animosities with North Korea.

The three-stage Nuri rocket succeeded in releasing and placing its functioning “performance verification” satellite at an altitude of 700 kilometres (435 miles) after its lift-off from South Korea’s space launch centre, the Science Ministry said.

“Dear fellow citizens, the space of Republic of Korea is fully open. The science and technology of Republic of Korea has made a great advance,” science minister Lee Jong-Ho told a televised news conference.

People watch a TV screen showing a news programme about South Korea’s rocket launch at a train station in Seoul
People watch a TV screen showing a news programme about South Korea’s rocket launch at a train station in Seoul (Lee Jin-man/AP)

“The government will continue its audacious march toward a space power with the people.”

Earlier live TV footage showed the 47-metre (154ft) rocket, adorned with a national flag and its official name in Korean, rising into the air amid bright flames and thick white smoke.

The launch has made South Korea the world’s 10th nation to place a satellite into space with its own technology.

It was South Korea’s second launch of the Nuri rocket.

In the first attempt last October, the rocket’s dummy payload reached its desired altitude of 700 kilometres (435 miles) but did not enter orbit because the engine of the rocket’s third stage burned out earlier than planned.

South Korea, the world’s 10th-largest economy, is a main supplier of semiconductors, cars and smartphones on world markets.

But its space development programme lags behind those of its Asian neighbours China, India and Japan.

North Korea placed its first and second Earth observation satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016, though there is no proof that either one has ever transmitted space-based imagery and data back home.

The Nuri rocket lifts off from a launch pad at the Naro Space Centre in Goheung, South Korea
The Nuri rocket lifts off from a launch pad at the Naro Space Centre in Goheung, South Korea (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

Those North Korean launches invited UN economic sanctions because they were viewed as covers for testing the country’s banned long-range missile technology.

Since the early 1990s, South Korea has sent a slew of satellites into space, but all from overseas launch sites or aboard a rocket built with the help of foreign technology.

In 2013, South Korea successfully launched a satellite for the first time from its soil, but the first stage of its launch vehicle was manufactured by the Russians.

After South Korea’s 2013 satellite launch, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused the United States of revealing “double standards and brigandish nature” because it supported the South Korean launch but spearheaded UN sanctions on the North’s 2012 satellite launch.

North Korea did not immediately respond to Tuesday’s Nuri launch.

South Korea plans to conduct four more Nuri rocket launches in coming years.

It also hopes to send a probe to the moon, build next-generation space launch vehicles and send large-scale satellites into orbit.

South Korean officials said the Nuri rocket has no military purposes.

A TV screen shows a news programme about South Korea’s rocket launch at a train station in Seoul
South Korea’s rocket launch is shown on a TV screen at a train station in Seoul (Lee Jin-man/AP)

The transfer of space launch technology is strictly restricted under a multilateral export control regime because it has military applications.

Experts say ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles share similar bodies, engines and other components, though missiles require a re-entry vehicle and other technologies.

“If you put a satellite on the top of a rocket, it would become a space launch vehicle. But if you mount a warhead on it, it becomes a weapon,” said Kwon Yong Soo, a former professor at Korea National Defence University in South Korea.

“If we succeed in Nuri’s launch, it’s really meaningful because we also succeed in the test of a long-range rocket that can be used to build a long-range missile.”

Lee Choon Geun, an honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, said it is difficult to directly use Nuri as a missile because it uses liquid fuels that must be kept at an extremely low temperature and requires much longer fuelling time than solid fuels.

He said North Korean long-range missiles also use liquid fuels, but extremely toxic ones that are maintained at ordinary temperatures and require less fuelling time than Nuri’s.

This year, North Korea has test-launched about 30 missiles with potential ranges that place the US mainland and its regional allies such as South Korea and Japan within striking distance.

Kwon said Nuri’s successful launch would prove that South Korea also has the capability to send a spy satellite into orbit.

South Korea currently has no military reconnaissance satellites of its own and depends on US spy satellites to monitor strategic facilities in North Korea.

South Korea has said it would launch its own surveillance satellites soon.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]