[Letters] Encouragement needed for the Naro space project

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[Letters] Encouragement needed for the Naro space project

After its seventh delay, the Naro-1 rocket (KSLV -1) will finally launch today. For the last few months, the rocket came under fire due to rumors that the engine was “incapable” of executing the launch and for its continuous deferment.

The plan itself wasn’t easy from the start. In 2004 there were rumors that the government had paid massive amounts to get the technology from the Russian space industry. When it was recently revealed that the engines built inside the first-stage rocket were actually 100 percent Russian-made, people complained that the Naro wasn’t actually made by the Korean science department, but by Russian spaceship companies. This leaves domestic engineers and researchers, who spent five years working on the project under harsh conditions and with harsher prospects, in disgrace.

All these controversies come from the fact that Korea lacks the necessary technologies for launching space vehicles. For a long time, the Korean government was reluctant to invest in space development projects, due to the lack of funds to back the research, the complexity of it and the tension surrounding the peninsula. While the world’s leading powers have launched over 6,000 SLVs over the last 50 years, Korea has barely participated in the field, having built its first research center less than 20 years ago.

Although the Naro is a satellite, it has all the crucial elements for building a space shuttle. The core of the technology lies in the first stage of the rocket, which is why the Russians have been so cautious to share the technology, and why our researchers bow their heads low in shame. Some critics have referred to such actions by the Russians as humiliating and disgraceful. True, but at the same time, it’s the reality.

The space industry is very monopolistic, with only a handful of nations including Russia having the actual technology and human resources to construct a space rocket. It will take years, maybe decades to catch up with other nations, even with the assumption that advancements in those nations will be minimal. So, although it’s very frustrating to endure such mistreatment by Russia, it’s also true that unless we sacrifice some of our dignity, we will not see future prospects.

Researchers say that the actual big stage will be in 2018, when they will be launching Naro-2, which will be built with domestic technologies. They say the first Naro was a benchwarming process. So, before mocking and sneering at how dependent the first Naro is, let’s give a warm cheer for the 150 researchers who are working hard at this very moment to develop a space rocket of our own.

Kang Jae-yoon,

Daewon Foreign Language High School

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