The Straits Times
Published on Jan 30, 2013

South Korea poised for high-stake rocket launch


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.