Korea on Wednesday began final preparations for its space rocket launch with the transportation of the rocket to a launch pad at the Naro Space Center on the south coast.
The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) was erected and fastened to the launch pad following its transfer from an assembly complex earlier in the day, according to officials from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).
"The Naro-1 was successfully erected, using an erector, at 5:11 p.m.," KARI said in a released statement.
It said the rocket has also been successfully connected to the cable mast, which is a pillar-like structure that houses all electric wires and gas pumps connected to the rocket.
The space rocket, also known as Naro-1, is tentatively scheduled to be launched Friday from the space center located 470 kilometers southwest of Seoul. A launch rehearsal is scheduled for Thursday, along with technical inspections.
It will be South Korea's third attempt to send the KSLV-1 into space after two earlier attempts in August 2009 and June 2010 failed.
The ongoing space program, scheduled to end early next year, began in 2002 when the country decided to develop its own means to take its science satellites into space.
A lack of relevant technology, however, forced the country to seek help from countries with more experience in space development, leading to a space cooperation pact with Russia in September 2004.
Under the agreement, Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center built and supplied the first-stage thrust engine of the two-stage Naro-1.
It took nearly 200 South Korean institutes and companies, including KARI, to build the second-stage rocket of the Naro-1. The space program has so far cost some 520 billion won ($471 million).
Regardless of the outcome of Friday's launch, Seoul plans to move ahead with a second five-year space development program that seeks to develop its own main thrust engine.
Under the long-term development plan, the country plans to develop a 10-ton thrust engine by 2016, followed by the development and test launch of a 75-ton thrust engine in 2018. It seeks to launch its first indigenous space rocket in 2021. (Yonhap)