South Korean rocket explodes in second straight failure

A S Korean rocket exploded soon after blast-off in the second failure in two attempts.

Updated: Jun 10, 2010, 18:37 PM IST

Seoul: A South Korean rocket on Thursday exploded
soon after blast-off in the second failure in two attempts to
put a satellite in orbit, dealing a major blow to the
country`s ambitious space programme.

"It seems that the Naro rocket exploded in flight," the
country`s science minister Ahn Byong-man said.

The South Korean rocket, Naro-1, carrying a scientific
satellite is believed to have exploded at an altitude of 70 km
and 137 seconds after it lifted off from a space centre on the
country`s south coast.

"An inboard camera detected a bright flash of light at
137 seconds into the flight, which coincides exactly with the
loss of communication with the two-stage rocket," he was
quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

Due to the explosion, ground control lost contact with
the rocket, other officials said.

The government plans to form a joint probe team with
Russia, which had provided technical assistance to South Korea
to develop the space rocket.

It is the second failure for South Korea to launch a
rocket to put a satellite into orbit.

South Korea`s first attempt to join the elite club was
made on August 25 last year, but the project ended in failure
as two fairings on the nose cone failed to separate on time,
preventing the satellite from gaining sufficient velocity to
reach its planned orbit.

The latest launch was postponed yesterday for one
day after the fire extinguisher system began leaking.

South Korea has spent over USD 400 million on the
140-tonne Naro-1.

"The nation`s eyes had become fixed on whether Korea
would become the tenth country in the world to launch a
satellite rocket from its own soil," Korean Herald reported.

The KSLV-1, or Naro-1, consists of the Science
Technology Satellite No. 2, a solid fuel-based rocket and a
liquid fuel-based first stage rocket. The latter was
manufactured in Russia’s Khrunichev State Space Science and
Production Center.

After successfully launching Naro-1 as a joint project
with Russia, the Education Ministry planned to move on
launching a purely Korean manufactured Naro-2 by 2020, the
report said.