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S. Korea joins global space club with satellite launch

Published on Jan 31, 2013 6:08 AM
 
 In this photo released by Korea Aerospace Research Institute, South Korea's rocket lifts off from its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013. South Korea says it has successfully launched a satellite into orbit from its own soil for the first time. Wednesday's high-stakes launch comes just weeks after archrival North Korea successfully launched its own satellite to the surprise of the world. -- PHOTO : AP 

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea succeeded on Wednesday in its third attempt to put a satellite into orbit, in a high-stakes test of national pride after arch-rival North Korea got there first with a rocket launch last month.

The 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-I) blasted off at 4pm (3pm Singapore time) from the Naro Space Center on the south coast, reaching its target altitude nine minutes later and deploying its payload satellite.

A positive outcome after successive failures in 2009 and 2010 was critical to ensuring the future of South Korea's launch programme and realising its ambition of joining an elite global space club. Scientists and officials at the space centre cheered, applauded and hugged each other as the satellite was released.

In the capital, hundreds gathered in front of a giant television screen in the main train station cheered as the rocket blasted off, and again when the satellite deployment was confirmed. "After analysing various data, the Naro rocket successfully put the science satellite into designated orbit," Science Minister Lee Ju Ho told reporters at the space centre. "This is the success of all our people," Mr ee said.

 
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