South Korea Launches Satellite into Orbit; Third Time's the Charm (Video)
Iran may have launched a monkey into space, but now South Korea has launched its first satellite. On Wednesday, the country announced the success of its mission only weeks after a similar launch by North Korea.
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The 140-ton rocket, named Naro, took off from a space center on the south coast at 4 p.m. local time. It was a flawless takeoff, a stark contrast from the two previous attempts to launch satellites in 2009 and 2010. Both had to be aborted due to last-minute technical problems.
It seems that these technical problems are finally at an end, though. The rocket, which was built in Russia and South Korea, completed its stage separation before the satellite it was carrying entered orbit. Although the mission seems to have been successful, there was no confirmation that the satellite was following its intended directory.
Actually arriving at the launch date had its own series of complications. The launch was delayed twice. In October, a leak in a fuel line to the rocket's first stage caused officials to push back the date, and in November, a technical problem was detected a mere 17 minutes before liftoff.
This string of failures isn't surprising, though. When the U.S. was first starting its space rocketry program in the late 1950s, it attempted 19 launches in one year with only five successes.
This launch follows a similar one completed by North Korea last month. The country launched a three-stage rocket successfully into space after four previous failed attempts which dated back to the 1990s. Although Pyongyang claimed the technology and parts as North Korea's own, they were dated back as coming from the old Soviet Union. According to amateur observers and space experts in other countries, the satellite hasn't been transmitting.
South Korea is now officially the 11th country to successfully put a satellite into space with a rocket that it developed.
Want to see the launch? Check out the video below.