South Korea was preparing Wednesday to launch its homegrown space rocket Nuri in a mission to put eight satellites into orbit.
The 200-ton Nuri is set to blast off from the Naro Space Center in the country's southern coastal village of Goheung at around 6:24 p.m., according to the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
In a meeting of Nuri's launch management committee Tuesday, the science ministry and KARI concluded Nuri's final technical inspection proceeded without any problems. The weather forecast also satisfied launch conditions.
A successful launch would verify South Korea's capability to operate a space vehicle to carry payload satellites into target orbit.
This time, Nuri, also known as KSLV-II, is loaded with eight practical satellites that have their own respective missions in space, while a dummy satellite and a performance verification satellite to test the rocket's capabilities were onboard Nuri in its previous flight.
They are the country's second next-generation small satellite, the NEXTSAT-2, four microsatellites developed by the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, codenamed SNIPE, the JAC by Korean engineering company Justek Inc., the LUMIR-T1 by local space firm Lumir Inc. and the KSAT3U by startup Kairospace Co.
Nuri's third launch was made possible by the success of the second attempt in June last year.
As Nuri finished its flight sequences and sent the dummy satellite into its target orbit as planned, South Korea became the seventh country in the world to have developed a space launch vehicle that can carry a more than 1-ton satellite, after Russia, the United States, France, China, Japan and India.
The country has secured the key independent technology for developing and launching space rockets carrying homegrown satellites, opening up a new era in the country's space program.
The 2 trillion-won ($1.52 billion) Nuri project that began in 2010 will continue until 2027, with three additional rocket launches. (Yonhap)