S. Korea decides to go forward with space rocket launch
South Korea decided Tuesday to go forward with the scheduled launch of its locally assembled space rocket after engineers corrected a problem in the electrical system, the government said, Yonhap reported.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the Naro-1 rocket will be launched on Wednesday as planned since the problem with the ground measurement system (GMS) has been fixed.
The system is part of the cable mast assembly that disconnects from the Naro-1 as it blasts off, and is used by ground controllers to determine the overall condition of the rocket before launch.
"South Korean and Russian engineers repeatedly examined and tested the electrical system overnight and concurred that the problem has been fixed," a KARI official said.
"They had to dissemble and check the connectors on the electrical system to fix the glitch, and have since linked various fuel valves and other control lines to see if there were any other problems," he said.
The official said a rocket control committee headed by Vice Science Minister Kim Jung-hyun, which met earlier in the day, opted to move forward with the launch based on recommendations made by the engineers.
Local engineers on Monday detected abnormal signals from the GMS while the rocket was being connected to the erector arm on the launch pad. The problem caused a five-hour delay and raised concerns that the launch could be delayed.
The science ministry and KARI, meanwhile, said that it will move forward with final systems checks starting at around 11:30 a.m. to see if the rocket is ready for launch. The final approval for the blastoff is expected to be made at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The 33-meter-long Naro-1, also called the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, is South Korea's second locally assembled space rocket. The first, which lifted off on August 25, failed to place a 100 kilogram scientific satellite into orbit due to a malfunction in the fairing assembly.
South Korea, with no experience in building space rockets, sought Russian help in 2002 for the Naro-1 project. The country has since spent 502.5 billion won (US$408.0 million) on the effort and will develop a larger rocket by 2020 that can send an unmanned probe to the Moon.