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(LEAD) (rocket launch) Ground controllers lose contact with space rocket after takeoff

All Headlines 17:39 June 10, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments after para 3)

NARO SPACE CENTER, South Korea, June 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean ground controllers said Thursday that they had lost contact with the Naro-1 space rocket 137 seconds after liftoff from a space center on the country's south coast.

The state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the rocket broke the sound barrier before contact was lost.

"The rocket was at an altitude of 70 kilometers and about 87 kilometers from the Naro Space Center when all communication was severed," said KARI President Lee Joo-jin.

He said efforts are underway to determine what caused the communication failure, and that there is still a chance that the rocket could stay on its course and release its satellite.

"In about two hours, time contact with the beacon could take with the Svalbard Satellite station in Norway," he said.


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