Flawless satellite lift-off


The battle for space supremacy on the Korean peninsula intensified yesterday when South Korea launched its first satellite, weeks after a similar launch by North Korea.

Relief greeted the Naro rocket’s flawless lift-off from a space centre on the south coast at 4pm local time. South Korea had twice failed to put a satellite into space, while two further attempts last year were aborted due to last-minute technical problems.

Reports from Seoul said the 140-tonne rocket, which was built in Russia and South Korea, successfully completed its stage separation before the satellite entered orbit. There was no immediate confirmation that the satellite was following its intended trajectory.

Before Wednesday, all of South Korea’s satellite launches had been from overseas sites using foreign-made rockets. The country is thought to have about 10 satellites in orbit.

US experts say the satellite launched by North Korea on December 12th is tumbling through space, despite claims by Pyongyang that it is functioning normally.

– (Guardian service)