South Korea on Wednesday began the final preparations for its space rocket launch with the movement of the rocket to a launch pad at the Naro Space Center.
The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) began being moved toward the launch pad at 8:21 a.m., according to officials from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The transfer will take up to two hours, and the rocket is expected to be fastened to the launch pad’s erector arm around 5 p.m., they said.
The space rocket, also known as Naro-1, is tentatively scheduled to be launched Friday.
It will be South Korea’s third attempt to send the KSLV-1 into space after two earlier attempts in August 2009 and June 2010 failed.
The ongoing space program, scheduled to end early next year, began in 2002 when the country decided to develop its own means to take its science satellites into space.
A lack of relevant technology, however, forced the country to seek help from countries with more experience in space development, leading to a space cooperation pact with Russia in September 2004.
Under the agreement, Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center built and supplied the first-stage thrust engine of the two-stage Naro-1.
It took nearly 200 South Korean institutes and companies, including KARI, to build the second-stage rocket of the Naro-1. The space program has so far cost some 520 billion won (US$ 471 million).
Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s launch, Seoul plans to move ahead with a second five-year space development program that seeks to develop its own main thrust engine.