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S. Korea to work with U.S., space-tech leaders to build KSLV-2 rocket: official

All Headlines 16:40 January 06, 2010

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will work closely with the United States and other space technology leaders to build its indigenous Korea Space Launch Vehicle-2 (KSLV) rocket, a senior policymaker said Wednesday.

Science and Technology Minister Ahn Byong-man made the remark on talks over technology sharing between South Korea and the U.S. in a meeting with reporters.

"In order to speed up development of a wholly Korean rocket, there is a need to cooperate with other countries to acquire knowhow," he stressed, adding that it is best to work with as many countries as possible to reduce development time and dependence on a single partner.

He added that cooperative tie-ups with Russia are still underway and that South Korea could expand such tie-ups to countries like Japan, which is a leader in space exploration and rocket technology.

"We have developed technology in the past that has attracted the attention of other countries," he said, hinting Seoul can use such developments to arrange cooperative ties ups.

He claimed that by using its prowess in information technology, the country could actually be globally competitive in such areas as space cameras and computers.

The KSLV-2 is a follow-up to the KSLV-1 or Naro-1 rocket that was launched with Russian participation in August. The rocket lifted off successfully from the Naro Space Center 485 kilometers south of Seoul, but problems in the fairing assembly made it impossible for the satellite to stay in orbit. The fairing assembly located at the tip of the rocket covers the satellite.

"Despite the need to cooperate with others, it is the firm stance of the government to build a KSLV-2 using locally made components instead of imports," he said.

He said that the government hopes it will complete the new rocket by 2018.

On the planned second launch of the Naro-1 rocket, Ahn said that the goal is to meet the original launch date set for May.

He said a review panel made up of experts isolated the cause of last year's "half-successful" launch and have narrowed it down to two reasons.

"Experts believe structural problems and faulty electrical wiring may have been responsible for the satellite falling back to earth after launch, although it may be impossible to know the exact cause," he said.

He pointed out that if engineers focus on these problems there is a good chance that the second launch will be successful. A definitive ruling on the cause of the mishap is expected in early February.

The state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute, in charge of the launch, said Russia could deliver its first stage rocket on time once Seoul sets a launch date, while South Korean companies and laboratories have already built the second part of the Naro-1 rocket and the scientific satellite.

Ahn also said that in the new year, Seoul will strive to build up its technology and knowhow in the nuclear energy field.

"We expect to sign a formal agreement with Jordan on sale of a Korean-made experimental reactor in March, while completing the blueprint for the so-called standard design for the export-oriented medium output system integrated modular advanced reactor (SMART)."

"Because SMART is designed to use atomic power to generate energy and desalinate sea water, it should be attractive on the international market," he said. Seoul hopes to complete construction and sell the reactor that can provide power to about 100,000 people by 2020.

The minister, meanwhile, said the government plans to use a 17 percent on-year hike in the science-related budget this year to strengthen the country's basic technology infrastructure as push forward research on eco-friendly "green" technologies and global climate change.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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