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In A First, South Korea’s Nuri Rocket Launches Satellites Into Orbit

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After a failed attempt last year, South Korea successfully put satellites into orbit with its indigenous Nuri rocket on Tuesday. The successful launch is seen as a massive step for the country’s rising space programme.

Nuri is a three-stage rocket which is more than 47 meters (154 feet) long and weighs 200 tons. South Korea’s Naro Space Center in the country’s southern coastal region was the launchpad and the launch took place at 4 p.m. local time.

The country’s science ministry said in a statement that, the rocket carried five satellites that will conduct Earth Observation Missions for the next two years. It was also saddled with a 1.3-ton dummy satellite.

“The road from South Korea to space has opened now,” said President Yoon Suk Yeol after the launch. “It’s the fruit of the difficult challenges of the past 30 years. Now, our Korean people and our young people’s dream and hope will reach toward space.”

Prior to South Korea’s mission on Tuesday, only Russia, the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and India had developed a space launch vehicle capable of carrying a satellite weighing more than 1 ton, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), a report by CNN said.

The report further added that South Korea first tried to launch a dummy satellite with the Nuri rocket last October. The attempt failed when the rocket’s third-stage engine shut down and the dummy satellite failed to reach low Earth orbit.

A Rising Space Power

South Korea has faltered when compared to its Asian neighbours like China and India when it comes to scientific achievements in space. It tried two launches in 2009 and 2010 used Russian-developed engines that were dubbed as failures due to the rocket’s inability to reach orbit. In 2013, a South Korean mission reached low-earth orbit with Russian developed technology.

According to CNN, since 2010, South Korea has invested nearly 2 trillion Korean Won (about $1.5 billion) in building the three-stage Nuri – which means “world” in Korean. Nuri is the country’s first rocket using its own technology, opening the door to a range of future satellites and missions. The country plans to launch five more missions by 2027, including a lunar orbiter developed in association with NASA.

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