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(LEAD) S. Korea completes work on Naro Space Center

All Headlines 13:52 June 10, 2009

(ATTN: CORRECTS 5.11 million to 5.07 million in para 2)
By Lee Joon-seung

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has completed work on its first space center that will play a pivotal role in the development of rockets and launching satellites into orbit, the government said Wednesday.

The Naro Space Center, located 485 kilometers south of Seoul and covering 5.07 million square meters, was built at a cost of 312.4 billion won (US$248.6 million), the Ministry of Education, Science and technology said.

Work began in Dec. 2000, with the ground-breaking taking place in mid 2003. The vast complex located on the southern coast has a state-of-the-art mission director center, launch and flight safety control facilities, launch pad, meteorological observatory and both radar and optical tracking systems to follow the trajectory of all rockets launched.

It is scheduled to launch the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) on July 30, which could make South Korea the 13th member of the so-called "space club" comprising countries that currently operate space centers and can send satellites into orbit.

The rocket, also called Naro-1, cost 502.5 billion won to make and will be the first space vehicle launched from South Korean soil to carry a small scientific satellite into Earth's orbit.

The two-stage rocket, built in cooperation with Russia, can generate 170 tons of thrust and is designed to deliver a 100 kilogram payload.

"The Naro center and the KSLV-1 are critical milestones in the country's space program," said Yoo Guk-hee, head of the ministry's space development division.

Following the successful launch of the KSLV-1, work will start on the construction of the more powerful KSLV-2 that could be launched around 2018, he said.

This project will be followed by efforts to send a unmanned probe into the Moon's orbit in 2020 and build a lunar lander five years later.

Yoo said that the center, with its advanced rocket engine facilities, could help South Korea acquire key technologies that are not shared by other countries, and strive to become one of the top 10 space exploration leaders in the coming years.


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