Seoul (YNA) Aug 05, 2009
South Korea said Tuesday it may have to again postpone the launch of its first space rocket because further examination of a critical combustion test conducted last week is needed.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said that while Russia successfully completed the "hot fire test" last Thursday, some "technical issues" still have to be clarified, requiring more time.
"A notification on the need to conduct more checks arrived from Russia," said Yoo Guk-hee, head of the ministry's space development division.
South Korea has never launched a space rocket, and has been working with Russia on the development of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1).
Yoo would not say whether the scheduled launch date of Aug. 11 will have to be changed to deal with the new developments, although a delay may be inevitable as the ongoing assembly of the rocket at the Naro Space Center will likely be affected.
"Once more details on the technical issues involved are known, a more definitive plan for the rocket will be made public," the official said.
Others in the ministry said that because Seoul set the "launch window" from Aug. 11 through Aug. 18 to deal with unforeseen developments in weather, experts will determine if the rocket can be launched within that time period.
The launch of the KSLV-1 has been delayed several times in the past, mainly due to technical reasons associated with the construction and certification of the new rocket, along with delays in the building of the launch pad and systems checks.
Originally, when the project was started in August 2002, work on the rocket design was set to be completed by late 2005 with the launch scheduled for October 2007.
This was pushed back to December 2008 and then to the second quarter of this year before being set at July 30. It has since been rescheduled for next Tuesday.
The rocket, developed at a cost of 502.5 billion won (US$412.5 million), stands 33 meters tall, has a diameter of just under 3 meters and weighs 140 tons.
The first stage main booster rocket has a thrust of 170 tons, while the smaller, second-stage can generate 8 tons of thrust. The rocket is designed to put a 100kg satellite into orbit.
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