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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Oct. 22)

All News 07:52 October 22, 2021

A historic liftoff

The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-II (KSLV-2), also known as the Nuri-ho, lifted off at 5 p.m. on Thursday from the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Jeolla. The moment the staff at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) pushed the button, the rocket started to soar to space with a roaring sound. After separating its first-stage rocket at the altitude of 59 kilometers (37 miles) exactly 127 seconds after the launch, the Nuri-ho detached the second-stage rocket at the altitude of 258 kilometers and reached 700 kilometers above Earth 976 seconds after liftoff. After clearing the Earth's atmosphere, the vehicle disconnected a dummy satellite, marking a dramatic moment in Korea's emergence as one of seven space powers.

The successful launch carries great significance for space development in the future. First of all, the country can take a leap forward in exploring space. The remaining six space powers are the United States, China, Russia, India, Japan and the European Space Agency. To become a space power, a country must have three capabilities: The ability to develop rockets, launch rockets on a permanent basis and use the information collected by satellites.

Korea did not have an ability to develop its own rockets for satellites for decades since the Syngman Rhee administration kindled the space dream. The country had difficulties in advancing its space program due to restrictions from the Korea-U.S. Missile Guidelines and a lack of private investment in the aerospace industry. The Naro Space Center in Goheung was not set up until July 2009.

To find a breakthrough, Korea struggled to develop its own rockets for satellites by pouring in two trillion won ($1.7 billion) over the past 11 years. In 2013, the country launched a rocket with help from Russia in order to learn the technologies needed to put a satellite into orbit. In 2018, Korea developed its own liquid-propellant rocket engine with a 75-ton thrust.

With the latest achievement, Korea has jumped over the many barriers for space exploration. If it successfully launches another rocket in May 2022, Korea will have the ability to shoot rockets at any time it wants.

Israel, Iran and North Korea have also launched their rockets in the past, but could not become a space power. If Korea achieves another feat next year, it can enter the space race amid the contest between the United States and China.

Korea plans to send a spacecraft to the moon. As space development is being led by private companies, about 300 local companies took part in the project here.

We hope Korea becomes a leader in space development soon.

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