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(LEAD) S. Korea's first geostationary weather satellite launched into orbit

All Headlines 07:19 June 27, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 1,3)

SEOUL, June 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's first geostationary ocean weather satellite has been launched into Earth's orbit from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, the government said Sunday.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said the Chollian communication, ocean and meteorological satellite blasted off from French Guiana on an Ariane 5-ECA rocket at 6:41 a.m. (Korean Time) after encountering minor technical problems on Thursday and Friday.

The satellite successfully reached orbit and separated from the second stage rocket roughly 32 minutes after takeoff, the ministry said.

It said that if there are no problems, the satellite should reach a stable orbital altitude of 36,000 kilometers in the coming days and start offering services in December.

The blastoff was delayed three days because of a "launch vehicle pressurization anomaly" detected prior to launch by engineers from France's Arianespace SA, which built the rocket. Originally, the liftoff was scheduled for Thursday at 6:41 a.m.

The 2.5-ton satellite is Seoul's first geostationary ocean weather satellite that will stay fixed in orbit and is designed to give the country timely and accurate data on weather and oceanographic information over Northeast Asia and act as a communications satellite.

Seoul spent more than 354.9 billion won (US$295.4 million) and took eight years to build the high-tech satellite that is designed to be in operation for seven years.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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