Homegrown KSLV-2 rocket to launch on Oct. 21
Korea will launch a carrier rocket developed entirely with homegrown technology into orbit on Oct. 21, a major milestone for the local space industry that has relied on foreign components for all previous launches.
The Ministry of Science and ICT announced the launch date of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-II (KSLV-2), also known as the Nuri-ho, on Tuesday, designating the following seven days as alternatives should weather conditions prove inclement on the planned date.
“It is very common that the launch date changes depending on weather conditions,” said an official at a launch management committee from the Science Ministry.
The three-stage rocket is scheduled to undergo a final test on Sept. 30 at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County in South Jeolla, where the KSLV-2 will lift off from the launch pad. The test is designed to play out different abnormal scenarios involving the intrusion of unidentified flying objects like drones.
The rocket passed a wet dress rehearsal last month to test its systems in extreme climate conditions.
Boasting six 75-ton liquid fuel engines in its boosters, the rocket is designed to carry a 1.5-ton satellite into low orbit. The first version of the rocket will carry a 1.5-ton mock payload.
The result of the launch is critical to gauge Korea’s status in space technology, with nearly 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion) having been funneled into the KSLV-2.
Over 300 companies participated in the project led by Korea Aerospace Industries, Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer.
Hanwha Aerospace took the lead in supplying the engine and other parts including valves and propellant pumps, while Hyundai Heavy Industries spearheaded the development of the launch pad. Doowon Heavy Industrial played a major role in building the rocket’s frame.
Unlike its predecessor, the KSLV-I rocket, which borrowed Russian technology, the KSLV-2 is billed as being entirely made up of components and systems developed in Korea.
Its predecessor was the KSLV-I rocket, which carried a 100-kilogram (220 pounds) satellite into orbit on Jan. 30, 2013 after two failures and several delays.
Only nine countries in the world — including the United States, China and Russia — own indigenous rocket launch technology.
Despite the hefty cost and long preparation, Korea faces an uphill battle to make the first launch a success.
“We can’t guarantee 100 percent certainty given that advanced countries like the United States show a success rate of 20 to 30 percent for the first launch of a rocket,” said Oh Seung-hyup, head of the rocket booster development division at the KAI. “Still, we remain positive because we’ve cleared all the problems found in the development process."
BY PARK EUN-JEE, MOON HEE-CHUL [email@example.com]