The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, colloquially called Naro, is moved out of its assembly complex near the launch pad at Naro Space Center at 8:16 a.m. in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, Tuesday. / Yonhap
By Cho Mu-hyun
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said Tuesday that its rocket has been installed on the launch pad ahead of Thursday's scheduled liftoff.
The Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), colloquially known as Naro, has been moved to the launch center near the coast in Goheung, South Jeolla Province.
The rocket was moved out of the assembly complex at 8:16 a.m. and erected on the pad and connected to the cable mast. A launch rehearsal is planned today.
It is expected to be launched between 4 to 6:55 p.m. on Thursday, subject to change depending on the weather, space atmosphere and other contingencies. A final time will be announced at 1:30 p.m. on the launch day.
KARI said weather forecasts indicate the possibility of rain is slim as of now.
The launch will be postponed to 2013 if it is canceled again due to unfavorable weather in the winter. The institute will re-evaluate a launch window and apply to international organizations for the green light in the spring.
The launch was stopped mid-phase last month due to a helium leak caused by malfunctioning parts that included a broken seal.
Though KARI initially said that it could recommence in October, a later inquiry found a more thorough review was necessary. Some replacements were shipped from Russia and checks started on Nov. 18.
"The main goal is not the launch itself but making it a success that sees that rocket reach the desired orbit and release its satellite," said a KARI official. "We will not rush the procedure. We will not push to go ahead with a launch if even the most minor problem occurs during preparation."
The institute said that the Korean and Russian research team have taken action to improve the rocket for the latest attempt following the halted one on Oct. 26.
This is the third attempt by Korea to launch a rocket into space. The first try in 2009 saw Naro reach the desired orbit but the payload delivery failed. The second rocket exploded 137 seconds after liftoff in 2010.
Science Minister Lee Ju-ho earlier expressed his confidence that the latest attempt will succeed and that KARI officials were better prepared than ever.
The KSLV-1 is a collaboration of Korea and Russia due to the former's lack of relevant technology. The two countries have been collaborating since 2004.
Korea is responsible for the second-stage payload rocket that contains a locally assembled satellite. Russia made the first stage.
The combined cost for the Naro project is over 500 billion won with the Naro Space Center has costing around 300 billion.
Seoul is planning a much larger and more sophisticated sequel called KSLV-2 regardless of the success of its predecessor. Related organizations are expecting a budget of over 2 trillion won.
If the launch of the KSLV-1 succeeds, the country will become the 10th nation in the world to launch a rocket from its own turf and place a satellite in orbit.