flood South Korea is seeking to join nations in space technology when it tries to send a payload of more than a ton into orbit on Thursday using its first home-made rocket.
The country ranks 12th among the largest economies in the world and has remarkable technological developments, as it is home to Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones and chips.
However, it did not enter the field of spaceflight, which was started in 1957 by the then Soviet Union, and was soon followed by the United States.
In Asia, countries with advanced space programs are China, Japan and India, while North Korea has been the last to enter the club of countries capable of launching its own satellites.
Ballistic missiles and space rockets use similar technologies, and Pyongyang put a 300-kilogram satellite into orbit in 2012, which Western countries condemned as a disguised missile test.
Currently, only six countries, with the exception of North Korea, have been able to launch one-ton deliveries with their own missiles.
The South will be the seventh if the second Korean satellite launch vehicle is named My light, was able to put its test payload of 1.5 tons into orbit at an altitude of 600 to 800 km.
The three-stage missile was developed over a decade at a cost of up to 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion). It weighs 200 tons, is 47.2 meters long, and has six liquid-fuel engines.
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South Korea’s first two space launch attempts failed, in 2009 and 2010, partly using Russian technology.
It eventually succeeded with its launch in 2013, but for its first stage it relied on an engine developed by Russia.
Although more and more private companies are participating in the launch of satellites, one expert considered that the success of My light South Korea offers enormous potential.
“Rockets are the only possible way for humanity to reach space,” Lee Sang-ryol, director of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, told the Chosun Biz newspaper.
“Having this technology means that we will fulfill the basic requirements to join this race of space exploration,” he added.
Thursday’s launch is another step in South Korea’s ambitious space programme. President Moon Jae-in said he will seek to launch a probe into orbit around the moon next year.
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