S.Korea urges Russia to send rocket parts swiftly
South Korea has urged Russia to send rocket parts as soon as possible so it can go ahead with an already-delayed satellite launch this month, an official said Tuesday.
Seoul wants to make another attempt to send the satellite into space between November 9 and 24 after last month's rocket launch was cancelled because of a defective part.
"We've been asking Russia to give a green light at the earliest possible date, but we don't know when we will have the parts," Kim Yeon-Hak, a deputy director at the science ministry, told AFP.
The October 26 launch was cancelled after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in the connector between the launch pad and the rocket's first stage.
"We cannot confirm whether the launch will be made within the current window", Kim said.
Kim Seung-Jo, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said the parts must arrive no later than Wednesday if the rocket is to be launched on or before November 24.
It will take at least 10 days after the parts arrive to refit the rocket and put it back on the launch pad on the south coast, Kim Seung-Jo said Monday.
Should the launch be put off again, South Korea would reset the period through consultations with international space agencies, he said.
Dates for the launch period are conveyed to international agencies to minimise risks to ships and aircraft that could pass near the flight path.
The 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) has a first stage manufactured by Russia and a solid-fuel second stage built by South Korea.
The technical problem that aborted last month's launch was not described as serious but the damaged rubber seal was sent back to its Russian manufacturer for inspections.
After two failures in 2009 and 2010, the upcoming exercise is considered crucial for South Korea's efforts to join an elite space club that includes Asian powers China, Japan and India.
In 2009 the rocket achieved orbit but faulty release mechanisms on the second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite.
The 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.
(c) 2012 AFP