Korea and Russia will push to launch the third Naro-1 space rocket before October 2012 after changing electrical systems suspected of causing problems during the last rocket flight, the government said Tuesday.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said an understanding was reached at the latest round of talks between the Korea Automotive Research Institute (KARI) and Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow last week.
It said both sides agreed to change the wiring for the main flight termination system (FTS) with a lower voltage system and remove self-destruct explosives from the second-stage rocket altogether. KARI and Khrunichev said they will also change electrical systems that operate the so-called fairing assembly, which protects the rocket's payload during ascent.
"The changes reflect recommendations made by the joint Failure Investigation Group that was set up to find out why the Naro-1 rocket failed to deliver its science satellite payload into the Earth's orbit," the ministry said.
The liftoff date takes into account the time it will take to modify the 140-ton rocket and to double-check the changes, it said.
The first-stage rocket is made in Russia and must be brought to South Korea, with South Korea building the smaller second-stage rocket and experimental satellite.
Also called the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, earlier models of Naro-1 have been launched twice before. In the first attempt in August 2009, problems in the fairing assembly prevented the deployment of a 100-kilogram satellite into orbit. The second blastoff took place in June 2010 but the rocket blew up 137 seconds after leaving the Naro Space Center off South Korea's southern coast.
The rocket has cost Seoul more than 502 billion won ($428 million) to develop since the project began in 2002. Russia is needed as a partner to help South Korea overcome its lack of experience in space rocket launches. (Yonhap)