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Seoul begins preparations for launch of Naro space rocket

South Korea began preparations Monday for what will be the third launch of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) by moving the space rocket to its launch pad.

The KSLV-1, also known as Naro, is set to blast off Wednesday from the country's Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, located 480 kilometers south of Seoul.

The transfer of the space rocket from its storage facility to the launch pad began earlier in the day, and Naro is expected to be in place around 5 p.m., according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

A final launch rehearsal will be held from early Tuesday with the Flight Test Committee and Launch Preparation Committee scheduled to meet later that day to decide whether the launch will take place as scheduled.

The weather condition is another major factor in deciding on the actual launch of a space rocket. Current weather forecasts predict partly cloudy skies around the Naro Space Center on Wednesday.

Wednesday's launch, if it takes place, will be Seoul's third launch of the Naro space rocket after its two earlier attempts in

2009 and 2010 ended in failure.

If the launch is successful, it will make South Korea the world's 13th nation to have ever sent off a space rocket from its own soil. The country has so far sent around 10 satellites into space, but all launched from foreign soil and using foreign space rockets.

The Naro is a two-stage rocket with a 170-ton thrust lower engine built by Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and a 10-ton thrust upper engine built jointly by KARI and some 200 other South Korean companies and institutes.

South Korea is already moving to develop its own 75-ton thrust engine by 2018 and launch an indigenous space rocket with a 300-ton thrust, carrying a 1.5-ton satellite in 2021. (Yonhap News)

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