South Korea has successfully launched its homegrown space rocket, Nuri, into outer space months after its first botched attempt.
Science and ICT minister Lee Jong-ho on Tuesday confirmed the success of Nuri's launch and its deployment of a satellite into orbit. The rocket lifted off from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, at 4 p.m.
Announcing the result at a media briefing at 5:10 p.m., Lee called it a “monumental moment” not only in the history of South Korea’s science and technology developments but also in the nation’s entire history. Domestic science and technology has made a great leap forward, he said.
According to the ministry, a satellite aboard Nuri successfully communicated with the King Sejong research station in Antarctica about 40 minutes after the blastoff. The final confirmation that it is operating properly will be made 18 hours later, at around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
If the whole process is confirmed to be a success, South Korea will be only the seventh country in the world to launch a satellite with domestically developed technologies.
South Korea initially sought to fulfill the goal last October, when the rocket successfully flew to a target altitude of 700 kilometers but failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit as its third-stage engine burned out earlier than expected.
The second attempt at the launch was scheduled for last Thursday, but the liftoff was postponed a day prior due to a technical glitch in the oxidizer tank sensor.