At the Satellite Technology Research Center in Daejeon yesterday, researchers looked grim as they made final checks of the satellite that the Naro is supposed to lift into orbit. Each time they’ve prepared for past launches, their hopes have been dashed. The first attempt in August 2009 failed when the satellite didn’t separate from the second stage of the rocket and both plummeted back to earth. The second attempt in June 2010 failed when the rocket exploded two minutes and 17 seconds after liftoff for reasons that still have not been determined.
And a third attempt was aborted last month when a helium leak was found because of a broken rubber seal in the connector between the rocket and its launchpad. A new linking mechanism was sent by Russia, and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute said it has been successfully replaced. If Korea finally succeeds in putting the indigenously developed satellite at least 302 kilometers (187 miles) above earth and into orbit, it will become the 10th country in the “space club,” which includes neighbors Japan and China. A final launch rehearsal took place at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla, yesterday. The rocket was transported from its assembly complex to a launch pad at the center on Tuesday.
A final systems check was conducted in two separate stages with a launch simulation of the rocket’s Russian-built first-stage, which took around seven hours, and a launch simulation of the Korean-built second stage taking about five hours, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Center.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said earlier that this will be the last attempt to launch a version of the Naro rocket into space. I really hope the launch succeeds.