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S. Korea's observational satellite successfully takes off

Science 16:05 March 22, 2021

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's next-generation midsized observational satellite was successfully launched Monday, two days later than scheduled, Russia's space agency said, boosting the relative latecomer's presence in the global space development race.

Russia's Soyuz 2.1a rocket was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying 38 satellites, including South Korea's observational satellite, according to Russia's Roscosmos.

The 540-kilogram satellite is set to separate from the rocket in an hour after its launch and make contact with the Svalbard Satellite Station in Norway, according to South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT.

The satellite was originally scheduled to take off last Saturday, but an error in the Russian rocket's electrical ground support equipment pushed back the launch to Monday, the ministry said.

The satellite is expected to make contact with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) later in the day, according to a KARI official.

This file photo, provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute on Jan. 22, 2021, shows South Korea's next-generation midsized observational satellite undergoing testing. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Equipped with an imaging sensor system developed by South Korean researchers, the satellite will conduct a four-year observation mission at 497.8 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

It is scheduled to provide precise observation videos of the Earth starting in October after a six-month trial run.

The launch comes after years of investment in the space industry by the relative latecomer to the global space development race.

South Korea has spent a total of 158 billion won (US$139 million) on the satellite project since 2015.

The science ministry said most of the core components of the satellite's optical payload were developed by South Korean research institutes and companies, including defense IT firm Hanwha Systems Co.

The country is also planning to launch its first locally developed rocket Nuri with a mock payload in October, for which the country has earmarked nearly 2 trillion won since 2010.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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