October 26, 2012
Technical Glitch Delays South Korean Satellite Launch
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
South Korea's space agency planned on launching a satellite from its own soil today, but said it will be delaying the attempt due to a gas leak.
Kim Seung-jo, KARI's space agency chief, said engineers found a gas leak in the link between the two-stage rocket and the launch pad just hours before Friday's launch.
The space agency has tried to launch a satellite from its own soil two other times, but each of those attempts failed.
Korea Aerospace Research Institute tried launching a satellite for the first time in 2009, but the rocket failed to place the satellite into orbit. A year later, a South Korean rocket carrying a satellite exploded just two minutes after lift-off.
The current rocket's first stage was made by Russia, while the second stage was built by South Korea.
The rocket will now be taken off its launch pad and moved to a hanger to repair the seal, which is expected to take three days. However, Kim said that if the problem is serious, they may not be able to launch the rocket in the current window, which is from October 26 through October 31.
North Korea, The country's rival northern neighbor, has faced its own set of hurdles trying to send a satellite to orbit. The communist country said it "succeeded" in launching a rocket carrying a satellite to orbit, but aborted the mission early in its flight.
North Korea has been hit with U.N. sanctions for its rocket tests, which critics say are actually tests for a ballistic missile program holding nuclear payload.