Rocket delay bigger issue than thought

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Rocket delay bigger issue than thought

Following the delay of the launch of the country’s first rocket Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) purportedly because of a damaged rubber seal, government officials yesterday stated that the problem was more serious than previously indicated and requires the replacement of a defective linking mechanism from Russia.

The third launch attempt of the KSLV-1, also referred to as the Naro, was originally scheduled for Oct. 26 at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Jeolla, after a successful final inspection and rehearsal run the day before.

But on the morning of the launch, the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) delayed the launch less than five hours before the scheduled takeoff, stating that experts found a damaged rubber seal in the connector linking the rocket to its launch pad which led to a helium leak.

Russian and Korean experts from KARI confirmed that there was a gap between the rubber seal and steel component of the rocket which led to the postponement of the launch. However, the leak did not stop even after the rubber seal was replaced.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology stated that the launch preparation committee in a meeting held yesterday said that there was in fact a defect in the adapter block that was responsible for tearing the rubber seal. “After the Russian-made adapter block is entirely replaced, we will be able to prepare for a launch again,” said Roh Kyung-won, head of space and nuclear technology at the ministry. “Once the component arrives from Russia, the replacement and testing will only take one or two days.”

But officials stated it is yet unclear how long it will take for the adapter to arrive.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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