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(2nd LD) Seoul sets Nov. 9-24 as new window for space rocket launch

All Headlines 15:23 October 29, 2012

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional information in paras 4, 8-9)

SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Monday set new candidate dates for the launch of its first space rocket after a previously scheduled launch was called off due to a defective part.

The Launch Preparation Committee set Nov. 9-24 as new candidate dates for the launch of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), with Nov. 9 singled out as the most likely date.

Singling out a specific date is for convenience reasons only, and the actual launch could take place on any of the candidate dates, the committee said.

"Based on the interim outcome of an investigation on the defective part and considering the amount of time needed for a more thorough investigation and to take necessary steps, the committee decided the launch of the KSLV-1 will be possible starting from Nov. 9," it said in a press release.

The rocket, also known as Naro-1, was earlier set to be launched Friday, but the launch was called off due to a broken rubber seal in the connector between the launch pad and the rocket's first-stage thrust engine.

The launch committee had originally set Oct. 26-31 as candidate launch dates, but committee officials said the ongoing investigation on the defective part of the rocket will not be completed for another several days.

South Korea has agreed to send the broken seal back to its Russian manufacturer, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, to see if the seal is the only problem or if it broke because of other undetected problems, such as a gap between the seal and the part it surrounds, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), South Korea's main space program developer.

"No gas leak or damage to a replaced seal was detected in a test for airtightness conducted on Oct. 27 and the Korea-Russia Flight Test Committee, which was convened in the afternoon of Oct. 27, has decided the problem was insignificant," the Launch Preparation Committee said.

"However, the research teams of South Korea and Russia agreed to conduct an additional analysis as part of efforts to more thoroughly prepare for an eventual launch and send the damaged seal to Moscow today for an additional analysis," it added.

The process will take at least 4-5 days, it said, which means a launch within the earlier set dates, which ends on Wednesday, will not be possible.

There are only certain periods throughout the year when a space rocket can be sent into space due to various issues, such as solar activity.

A KARI official earlier said such a time window is only open till mid-November this year.

South Korea's two earlier attempts to send the KSLV-1 into space in August 2009 and June 2010 ended in failure.


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