NATIONAL

Sucess rate of first space rocket launch under 30 %

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  • Published : Mar 30, 2010 - 14:50
  • Updated : Mar 30, 2010 - 14:50
The success rate of the first launch of orbit-reaching rockets in the world stands at less than 30 percent highlighting the difficulties involved in space development, a report by the state-run aerospace institute said Tuesday.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), charged with managing the country`s space program, said that of the 11 countries that launched locally assembled rockets from 1957 through 2008, just three actually placed their satellites successfully into orbit on the first attempt, Yonhap News reported.
Only Russia, France and Israel succeeded in the first launch, while others like the United States, Japan, Britain and China all failed.
"The first-time success rate stands at a mere 27.2 percent, while even among the launch of fully developed and proven rockets carrying expensive, commercial satellites, two out of 10 attempts ended in failure," said KARI president Lee Joo-jin.
He, however, said that because of the benefits that can come from space exploration many do not give up until they succeed.
KARI said that well known rockets like the U.S.-made Vanguard, Atlas, and European launch vehicle models including Europa and Ariane have suffered losses. Russia, which enjoys a relatively high success rate, lost the Soyuz 11A511U in 2002, with Japan`s rocket program being adversely affected with loss of two H-2 rockets in the 1990s.
It said that while, some losses like the Atlas G that disintegrated after being struck by lightning in March 1987 cannot be prevented, engineers have carefully checked known weak points in rockets to ensure the successful launch of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) set for Wednesday.
"The KSLV-1 uses a first stage booster made from the Angara family of Russian rockets, but the RD-151 engine has never been used in a real launch to send a satellite into space," a KARI research fellow said.
He said that to ensure there are no mishaps, emphasis will be placed on checking propulsions that accounted for 66.2 percent or 131 failures tallied for the 1957-2003 period.
Close examinations of separation mechanisms for the rockets and satellites, along with avionics have also been examined in detail for any faults.
Separation has been cited for causing launch failures in 12.6 percent of all blastoffs, while avionics caused losses in 10.2 percent of all missions.
"In the case of Russian made rockets, propulsion troubles have accounted for 73.4 percent of all failures, making it imperative that such parts as fuel, motors, nozzles, turbo pumps and valves are checked carefully," the expert said. He stressed that data related to all past failures have been collected and analyzed in detail to ensure that Wednesday`s launch is a success.