Korea’s newest scientific satellite made initial communication with a ground station in Daejeon early Thursday, finally confirming the success of the nation’s first successful launch of a space rocket from its own soil.
The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 rocket, jointly built by Korean and Russian scientists, launched from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The rocket put a 100-kilogram Science and Technology Satellite-2C into orbit about nine minutes after takeoff.
|Kang Kyung-in, an official with the Satellite Technology Research Center, explains the path of Korea’s satellite STSAT-2C in Daejeon on Thursday. (Yonhap News)|
The satellite transmitted its first signal to a ground station in Norway around 6 p.m.
It made first contact with the Satellite Technology Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon at 3:27 a.m. and again at 5:11 a.m. Thursday.
The 2 billion won ($1.84 million) satellite with a one-year operational lifespan will mainly collect data on space radiation orbiting the Earth 14 times a day, according to the KARI, the state-run space program developer.
The launch came amid growing tension with North Korea over the Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch and its recent threat to conduct a third nuclear test.
The U.S. confirmed Thursday that Seoul’s space program was peaceful and transparent, warning that North Korea should not use it as an excuse for its missile and nuclear projects.
“You know our view that there is no basis for comparing the behavior of the ROK in space with the behavior of the DPRK,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing.
“The DPRK (North Korea), obviously, is completely proscribed under binding U.N. Security Council resolutions from ― based on its ballistic missile activity ― from any kind of launching, whereas the ROK (South Korea) has developed its space launch program completely responsibly,” she said.
With Wednesday’s success, Korea became the 11th nation to have successfully sent a domestic satellite from its own soil.
The achievement marks a momentous boost for Korea’s space ambitions and national pride, which were dampened by two previous failures, in 2009 and 2010, as well as North Korea’s successful launch of a long-range rocket.
Experts, however, say there still remains a long way to go before it develops a space launch with its own technology and catches up with the global leaders in the field including Asian rivals China, India and Japan.
Korea aims to develop an indigenous 10-ton thrust, liquid-fueled rocket engine by 2016 and a 75-ton thrust engine by 2018. It also plans to develop a 300-ton thrust engine that can carry a 1.5-ton satellite into outer space by 2021. Officials said Wednesday the country will speed up the plan so that it could develop its own space rocket by 2020.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com