Categories: Space Flight

South Korean Rocket Explodes 137 Seconds Into Flight

A South Korean rocket carrying a climate observation satellite apparently exploded 137 seconds into its flight early Thursday. The two-stage Naro rocket operated normally during and after liftoff from the country’s space center, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ahn Byong-man said. But then communications with the rocket were lost.

This is the country’s second major space setback in less than a year.

The blastoff at the coastal space center in Goheung, 290 miles south of Seoul, took place at 8:01 GMT, and was the country’s second attempt to launch of a rocket from within their own borders. In the first attempt last August, the satellite failed to reach orbit because one of the fairings apparently failed to come off after liftoff despite the rocket launch itself being considered a success.

Today, contact was lost as the rocket reached an altitude of 70 kilometers (44 miles). The video from South Korean television doesn’t show an explosion, but only appears to follow a white speck on its downward trajectory into the sea.

“We believe that the Naro rocket is likely to have exploded,” Ahn Byong-man, Minister of Education, Science and Technology told reporters. “We are sorry for failing to live up to people’s expectations.”

He said South Korean and Russian experts were trying to find the cause of the problem. The first stage of the two-stage Naro rocket was designed and built by Russia and the second by South Korea.

Since 1992, South Korea has launched 11 satellites from overseas sites, all on foreign-made rockets. The country hopes to develop a space launch vehicle with its own technology by 2020.

Sources: NPR, BBC

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

Recent Posts

Is the Underground Lake on Mars Just Volcanic Rock?

Is Mars home to an underwater lake? Different researchers are reaching different conclusions. Some say…

2 hours ago

What is Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?

More than a century after he first proposed it, Einstein's Theory of Relativity is still…

2 hours ago

The Scientific Debate Rages on: Is there Water Under Mars’ South Pole?

There's no surface water on Mars now, but there was a long time ago. If…

6 hours ago

We Already Have the Technology to Save Earth From a “Don’t Look Up” Comet or Asteroid

What if a 10 km (6.5 mile)-wide asteroid was on a bee-line towards Earth, with…

7 hours ago

NASA is Already Designing Hardware for a Mars Sample Return Mission

Testing is key to the success of any space mission, and the more complex the…

10 hours ago

Unistellar’s Plans for Science and Astronomy in 2022

Unistellar’s eVscope has proven its ability to do serious astronomy, with more to come in…

1 day ago