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(LEAD) S. Korean satellite lost shortly after launch: gov't

All Headlines 11:36 August 26, 2009

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments throughout)
By Lee Joon-seung

NARO SPACE CENTER, South Korea, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean satellite carried by a rocket launched earlier this week was lost shortly after blastoff due to problems in the payload fairing system, the government said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said that while the first and second stage rockets separated as planned after launch from the Naro Space Center at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, one of the two fairings covering the satellite did not fall off properly.

"The fairings weigh four times more than the scientific satellite making it effectively impossible for the second stage rocket to generate the necessary thrust to keep the satellite in orbit," said Vice Science and Technology Minister Kim Jung-hyun.

He added that the extra weight also affected stabilization and navigational control that caused the rocket to steer upwards and the satellite to be released at an altitude of 387km, far higher than the planned 302km.

"The second fairing fell off 540 seconds after launch but by this time the speed of the rocket and satellite had fallen to 6.2km per second," the policymaker said. A satellite needs to maintain a speed of at least 8km per second to stay in orbit.

He said that the satellite probably fell back towards Earth and was destroyed in the atmosphere, adding it may be hard to find any remnants of the 100kg satellite.

Kim said that talks are underway with Russia, which built the first stage rocket, to determine why the fairing did not separate properly.

Work on the scientific satellite made in the country began in October 2002 and cost 13.6 billion won (US$10.8 million). The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology took part in the construction. The satellite was assembled in 2006 with tests conducted every six months to ensure full operational capabilities after launch.


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