Naro Readies for 3rd Launch, 80% of Koreans Support Further Space Research
The previous two attempts to send a Korean rocket into space have ended in failure
The first flight in August 2009 lasted less than four minutes -- because the protective fairing system encasing the rocket failed to separate from it.
The second flight in June 2010 was even shorter -- the space center lost the signal 137 seconds after take off.
No specific reason was cited for the failure, but it was widely thought that the rocket exploded in the air even before escaping the atmosphere.
And now, today -- T minus 3 days -- all eyes are on the third try.
For the last two years, Korea's Aerospace Research Institute has been working with Russia's Khrunichev State Research Institute -- which built the rocket's first stage, to analyze and improve all components that could result in defects.
That included switching the fairing separation system to a lower voltage from the previous high voltage system.
The nation's hopes are high as the blast-off date nears, though there are some concerns about inclement weather.
If the launch fails to go off on Friday as scheduled, backup dates have been set for between October 27th and 31st.
Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming Naro launch, support for space research is strong in Korea.
According to a recent Yonhap surveyof a thousand adults, 80 percent of respondents said they would support space research in the future because space technology is closely tied to national security and defense, sending the strong message that Seoul needs the technology to launch rockets on its own.
The nation's science ministry will also push forward with additional space programs, namely a second Korea Space Launch Vehicle following the Naro 1 in 2021.
[Interview : Roh Kyung-won, Director General of Space & Nuclear Technology
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology] "Naro's third launch is an indispensable investment for the nation -- laying the groundwork for Korea to emerge as a leading country in advanced space technology."
Yet there is more work to do.
Satellite consulting firm Euroconsult reports that the government's budget for the space program last year was a mere 200-million dollars only one-200th of Washington's allocation of 42 billion dollars, suggesting Seoul needs to beef up its budget for space technology if it is to build a stronger program in the future.
Song Ji-sun, Arirang News.
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