South Korea, Russia probe rocket failure

The Naro-1 rocket veered off course and exploded 137 seconds after blast-off.

Seoul: South Korean and Russian experts launched an investigation on Friday after the fiery failure of the Asian country`s latest rocket launch, which some researchers blamed on inadequate testing.

The Naro-1 rocket, which was Russian-made but assembled in South Korea, veered off course and exploded 137 seconds after blast-off yesterday.

The mishap came after a first rocket failure last year, thwarting South Korea`s plans to launch a scientific satellite and setting back its dreams of joining Asia`s space race.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the debris fell into the sea, some 470 kilometres south of the Naro Space Centre`s launch pad off the southern coast.

KARI today convened a meeting of a joint investigation committee of the two countries to determine the cause of the failure, a spokesman for the Education, Science and Technology Ministry said.

"It went wrong after the first-stage rocket completed two-thirds of its work," KARI research fellow Chae Yeon-Seok said.

Researchers said this was verified by video from a camera mounted on the rocket as well as live TV footage, which both showed a sudden brightening and orange flames of an explosion.

South Korea was trying to join an exclusive club currently numbering nine nations that have put a satellite into orbit using a domestically assembled rocket.

Its first attempt failed last August when fairings on the nose cone of the Naro-1 did not open properly to release the satellite.


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