South Korea said it would make another attempt to send a satellite into space next month after a scheduled rocket launch last week was cancelled because of a technical glitch.
A Science Ministry statement said the 140-ton Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) would blast off sometime during a November 9-24 window from the Naro Space Centre on the south coast.
The launch had been slated for last Friday, but was cancelled after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in the connector between the launch pad and the rocket’s first stage.
After two previous failures in 2009 and 2010, the current launch is considered crucial for South Korea’s efforts to join an elite space club that includes Asian powers China, Japan and India.
The KSLV-1 has a first stage manufactured by Russia, combined with a solid-fuelled second stage built by South Korea.
South Korean and Russian engineers said Friday’s problem was not particularly serious, but added that the damaged seal had been sent back to its Russian manufacturer for an additional investigation.
In 2009, the rocket achieved orbit but faulty release mechanisms on the second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite.
The 2010 effort saw the rocket explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea pointing the finger of blame at each other.
Success this time around will mean a huge boost for South Korea — a late entrant into the high-cost world of space technology and exploration and desperate to get its commercial launch program up and running.
Seoul’s space ambitions were restricted for many years by its main military ally the United States, which feared that a robust missile or rocket program would accelerate a regional arms race, particularly with North Korea.