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South Korea poised for high-stake rocket launch

Published on Jan 30, 2013 5:54 AM
This handout photo provided by Korea Aerospace Research Institute on Jan 28, 2013, shows engineers and launch coordinators gathering near the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-I on its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, 350km south of Seoul. South Korea confirmed that it will make another bid on Jan 30 to put a satellite in orbit and join an elite club of global space powers that includes China, Japan and India. -- PHOTO: AFP PHOTO/KOREA AEROSPACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea was poised on Wednesday for its third bid to send a satellite into orbit - a watershed moment for the future of the country's space programme and a high-stakes challenge to national pride.

The pressure surrounding the mission has risen considerably in the wake of rival North Korea's successful launch of a satellite on an indigenously-built carrier in December.

Final preparations for Wednesday's launch were also being made under the North's threat of an imminent nuclear test, which would quickly deflate any congratulatory bubble arising from a successful mission.

After two previous failures in 2009 and 2010, the 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-I) was scheduled to blast off some time after 3.55pm (2.55pm Singapore time) from the Naro Space Center on the south coast.

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