South Korea has postponed a key satellite launch until the last week of November because of delays in the arrival of rocket parts from Russia, a senior official said Wednesday.
"We plan to inform international agencies of a new launch period of between November 23 and 30," the science ministry's Research and Development Policy Director Yang Sung-Kwang told journalists.
After two failures in 2009 and 2010, the planned rocket launch is considered crucial for South Korea's efforts to join an elite club of nations—including Asian powers China, Japan and India—capable of putting a satellite in orbit.
The launch was originally scheduled for October 26 but it was cancelled at the last minute after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in a connector between the launch pad and the rocket's first stage.
The 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) has a first stage manufactured by Russia and a solid-fuel second stage built in South Korea.
The damaged seal was sent back to its Russian manufacturer for inspection and a new launch window was set between November 9-24, but delays in Russia shipping a replacement resulted in a second postponement.
Launch dates are provided in advance to international agencies to minimise risks to shipping and aircraft in the area.
In 2009 a South Korean rocket achieved orbit but faulty release mechanisms on the second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite.
A 2010 effort saw the rocket explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea blaming each other.
South Korea is a late entrant into the world of space technology and is eager to get its commercial launch programme up and running.
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