We have a lift-offA space rocket powered by an engine entirely built by Koreans successfully launched at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Jeolla, at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The launch was aimed to test out the 75-ton thrust engine designed and developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
The performance of the liquid propellant rocket engine depended on the length of the total combustion time. The engine flared for 151 seconds, longer than the targeted 140 seconds, allowing the rocket to fly for 10 minutes after reaching a maximum suborbital attitude of 209 kilometers (130 miles) before falling into the waters 429 kilometers southeast of Jeju.
The launch is just a baby-step towards Korea’s space program. Although a technology and manufacturing powerhouse, Korea has been lagging in space technology.
The Soviets put the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit in 1957. Since then, Russia, the United States, France, Japan, China and others have all sent their own satellites into space for scientific research in climate forecast, logistics, and navigation, as well as military intelligence.
Korea had to rely on Russian and Japanese engine technologies to launch a satellite, while the U.S. spaceship InSight Lander touched down on Mars and delivered seismic information.
The engine tested on Wednesday will power the Nuri satellite in 2021. If the launch succeeds, Korea will have its own technology to put a satellite into the orbit three years after it launched Naro, which was powered by a Russian engine in 2013.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 29, Page 34