Photo gallery: S. Korea launches third bid to join global space club
SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea launched a rocket on Wednesday in its third bid to put a satellite in orbit - a high-stakes challenge to national pride after rival North Korea succeeded in the same mission last month.
A positive outcome after successive failures in 2009 and 2010 is critical to ensuring the future of South Korea's launch programme and realising its ambition of full membership of the elite global space club.
The 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-I) blasted off at 4pm local times from the Naro Space Centre on the south coast.
Space centre officials said it would take nine minutes for the rocket, with a first stage manufactured by Russia and a second stage built by South Korea, to reach its target altitude and deploy the payload satellite.