Historic launch of the Nuri rocket for South Korea

A South Korean rocket developed entirely in South Korea has put satellites into orbit for the very first time.

The Nation’s New Nuri rocket lifted off from Naro Space Center on Tuesday, June 21 at 3 a.m. EDT (0700 GMT), ultimately deploying six payloads to Earth orbit, Reuters reported (opens in a new tab).

One such payload was a 358-pound (162.5-kilogram) test satellite that managed to make contact with a base station in Antarctica after reaching orbit, according to Reuters. The others were a 1.3 ton dummy satellite and four tiny cubesats developed by university researchers.

Meet Naro: South Korea’s first rocket in photos

Tuesday’s liftoff was the second orbital mission for the 155-foot-tall (47.2-meter) three-stage Nuri. The first one, in October 2021failed to place a dummy payload into orbit as planned after the rocket’s third stage shut down prematurely.

Tuesday’s success was therefore very important for South Korea, which wants to launch its own constellation of navigation satellites and send probes to the Moon, among other space goals.

“Now the route to space from our earth is open,” South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said shortly after Tuesday’s launch, according to Reuters. “It was the product of 30 years of daunting challenges. Now the dreams and hopes of our people and our youth will stretch out into space.”

South Korea launched a satellite into orbit once before, in 2013 with a rocket called Naro. But Naro was a joint project with Russia, while Nuri is an entirely local vehicle, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, as noted by Reuters.

Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).

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