Korea to launch a rocket into space next month (July 2009)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The good Korea, that is.

I first read about this in 2003 and have been looking forward to it since then, but apparently the construction for Korea's Space Centre started in December 2000. It's located on the island of Oinarodo (oi sounds like "way"), which is located here:

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An image of the Space Center should help to visualize where everything is on that map above.

That building to the far right is the space education / PR centre, so I assume that's where regular people are allowed to go, and who knows how much more of the complex can be seen by the average citizen. The space centre is quite far away from where I live (Seoul), but luckily there is a blogger named Brian who lives right nearby, and he's written about the place before and just might go check it out. After all, he lives in the area and has written on it before.

Now for some stats from the article:

Total area of the space centre is 5.07 k㎡, the rocket is 33 metres in height (that's twice that of Space X's Falcon I, there are 13 buildings in the area including the launch control tower and rocket tracking radar...construction for the space centre has just finished (that's why there are articles on it in the news today), total cost to construct this was about $300 million (quite cheap, comparatively). With the launch Korea will become the 13th nation to have launching capability, and the 27th to have a space centre. The satellite to be launched next year is a Korean-made satellite weighing 100 kg. Launch date will depend on the weather. The first stage of the rocket is Russian-made.

The space centre has a 3000mm zoom extra high-speed camera capable of taking 480 images per second, and with a zoom lens can take pictures of objects up to 10 km away, or 20 km in infrared.

This news clip shows you what the rocket and the area around the space centre looks like.

They also note that few countries have succeeded in launching rockets on their first try - as of now, only Russia, France and Israel have done so. They then take a look at North Korea's space technology and the difference between the two (I would add that South Korea doesn't have to starve its citizens in order to pay for a rocket launch), and mention that in 2017 there will be a second edition of this rocket capable of carrying larger payloads into space.

This article has a bit more information on Korea's plans for space development: 2020 is the target date for a probe to lunar orbit, and 2025 for a lunar rover.

The rocket's name is Naro.


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