Korea plans to develop a three-stage indigenous space rocket, the KSLV-2, by 2020. Before that, it aims to develop a 75-ton thrust engine by 2018.
Kim Seung-jo, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said earlier that the country should look to a private space firm called SpaceX for its future space model.
The California-based firm’s two-stage rocket uses the Merlin engine, which provides a 66-ton thrust using liquid oxygen and kerosene. The first stage has nine Merlin engines clustered together that can generate nearly 600 tons of thrust.
KARI’s long-term goal is to develop a 300-ton thrust engine that can carry a 1.5-ton satellite into outer space by combining 75-ton thrust engines.
The National Science and Technology Commission has already approved a new five-year space program that aims to develop an indigenous 10-ton thrust engine by 2016.
To this end, KARI seeks to launch 14 new projects, costing a total of 1.54 trillion won ($1.4 billion), which will include the construction of a space vehicle test center as well as a training facility for astronauts.