SOUTH Korea test launched its first domestically produced space rocket on Thursday in what officials describe as an important step in the country’s pursuit of a satellite launch programme. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the three-stage Nuri rocket succeeded in delivering a dummy payload – a 1.5-ton block of stainless steel and aluminum – into orbit 600 to 800 km (372 to 497 miles) above Earth. Live footage showed the 47-meter (154 foot) rocket soaring into the air with bright yellow flames shooting out of its engines following blastoff at Naro Space Centre, the country’s lone spaceport, on a small island off its southern coast.
The launch, which was observed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, was delayed by an hour because engineers needed more time to examine the rocket’s valves. There had also been concerns that strong winds and other conditions would pose challenges for a successful launch.