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South Korean rocket will launch again in June

Posted: March 31, 2010

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South Korea plans another flight of its small satellite launcher in June, nearly a year after the rocket's first mission was doomed when its payload shroud did not separate, according to the rocket's Russian contractor.

The KSLV's first launch in August 2009 fell short of orbit. Credit: KARI
The first stage of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle is about to be shipped from Russia to South Korea, the program's Russian industrial partner said in a statement Wednesday.

The 93-foot-long first stage was transported by train from Khrunichev to an airfield Wednesday. The vehicle will next be loaded into a cargo plane to fly to Busan, South Korea.

From Busan, the rocket will be loaded onto a ship to sail to the Naro Space Center on a small island off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, Khrunichev said in a statement.

The company also oversaw construction of the South Korean launch site, which includes a launch pad, processing facilities and a control center.

Khrunichev's written statement said liftoff of the second KSLV, or Naro, rocket is scheduled for some time in June.

The KSLV first stage is powered by a single kerosene-fueled RD-151 engine, a downscaled version of the engines used to propel Zenit and Atlas rockets from Earth.

The RD-151 engine produces about 375,000 pounds of thrust during the first four minutes of flight. The stage is based on the Universal Rocket Module being developed for the Russian Angara launcher designed to haul a wide range of small to large satellites into space.

For KSLV missions, Khrunichev swapped the Angara's more powerful engine for the smaller RD-151 unit.

According to Khrunichev, The Russian-made first stage performed well during the KSLV's inaugural flight last August, but the mission failed to reach orbit because half of the rocket's nose cone failed to jettison.

The payload fairing was supposed to split open and separate like a clamshell a few minutes after liftoff. The 108-foot-tall rocket was carrying a small Earth observation and demonstration satellite for the Korean Aerospace Research Institute, South Korea's official space agency.

Officials said the Korean-made solid-fueled second stage also worked as expected during last year's test flight.