South Korea has postponed the launch of its first-ever space rocket just minutes before the scheduled blast-off because of a suspected fuel pressure problem. The launch will be delayed for several days.
The Space Travel.com website said the a problem in the automatic launch sequence caused mission controllers to call off the launch at the Naro Space Centre at Goheung, 475 kilometres south of Seoul
This was the seventh time since 2002 that the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV) was delayed.
South Korea developed its own space-capable rocket capacity with the help of Russia. The country’s engineers will now consult with the Russians, who built the rockets first stage. South Korean engineers built the vehicle’s second stage. If successful, South Korea would be the tenth country to put a satellite into orbit using its own rocket.
The country also built the 100-kilogram research satellite that was scheduled to go into space today.
The website said that the U.S. government, worried about an arms race in the region, had not provided South Korea with the technology required to launch its own satellite. Nonetheless, the view in Washington was positive. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said:
The South Koreans have developed their programme in a very open and transparent way, and in keeping with the international agreements that they have signed on to. This is in stark contrast to the example set by North Korea, which has not abided by its international agreements.
South Korea sent its first astronaut into space in April last year on board a Russian Soyuz rocket.