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(LEAD) S. Korea to launch first space rocket on Aug. 19

All Headlines 17:01 August 11, 2009

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 3-4; ADDS more information from para 8)
By Lee Joon-seung

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's first space rocket will be launched on Aug. 19 following repeated delays caused by the Russian-made first stage booster, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said engineers concluded that the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) could be launched safely following the successful "hot fire test" conducted late last month.

"The final date was reached after checking likely weather conditions, close consultation between South Korean and Russian engineers and review by a local launch preparation panel," said Lee Sang-mok, deputy minister of science and technology policy. He noted, however, that depending on weather conditions and preparation levels, the launch date can be set back a few days.

He said Seoul notified both the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization that the KSLV-1 will be launched between Aug. 19 and Aug. 26.

The blastoff date was originally scheduled for July 30 but was pushed back 12 days after Russia said it could not conduct the critical fire test on time. It was again postponed early last week following the discovery of an abnormal spike in revolution numbers in a support booster pump in the engine that has since been discovered to have been caused by a diagnostic glitch.

South Korea, which has no experience in the launching of a space rocket capable of carrying a satellite into orbit, has been working with Russia to build the KSLV-1. Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center is responsible for building and testing the main first stage rocket.

The rocket, developed at a cost of 502.5 billion won (US$404.7 million), stands 33 meters tall, has a diameter of 2.9 meters, weighs 140 tons and can generate 170 tons of thrust. The first stage liquid-fueled rocket was made in Russia, while the smaller second stage, powered by solid fuel and the satellite was made in the country.

Seoul said that once the first KSLV-1 is launched carrying the Science and Technology Satellite-2, a second rocket will be sent into space in April 2010. A third rocket can be launched in the event that one of the two planned rockets is lost.

State-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), meanwhile, said that the first stage rocket tested outside of Moscow on July 30 was the RD-151 or KSLV-1 first stage booster and not the RD-191 engine as reported by some local media outlets.

KARI chief Lee Joo-jin said that both the Khrunichev Space Center and the NPO Energomash, the engine developer, officially confirmed that the test was conducted on the RD-151, which is the same as the model air-lifted to South Korea in mid-June.


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