S. Korea's launch of independently made rocket makes headlines across globe

한겨레 입력 2021. 10. 22. 17:56 수정 2021. 10. 22. 18:06

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The foreign press covered the launch of the Nuri rocket, some noting the recent tension over missile tests on the Korean Peninsula
The homegrown South Korean Nuri rocket lifts off from the second launch pad of the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province on Thursday evening. (provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute)

South Korea’s successful launch of its independently developed Nuri rocket drew major attention from the foreign press.

But the launch was unfortunately only half successful, as it failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit.

Shortly after the launch at 5 pm Thursday, the AFP news agency published a bulletin that it had taken place. Five minutes later, it quoted a South Korean TV network’s live coverage of the event as saying that the rocket “appears to be soaring skyward without any major issues.”

At 5:17, the agency published an analysis stating that South Korea had “risen to become the world's 12th-largest economy and a technologically advanced nation, home to the planet's biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, Samsung Electronics. But it has lagged in the headline-making world of spaceflight.”

The successful launch, it said, made South Korea part of “the club of [Asian] countries with their own satellite launch capability,” after China, Japan, India and North Korea.

Only six countries have managed to launch an object weighing at least one ton with their own independently produced rocket. Had the launch been successful, South Korea would have become the seventh.

In December 2012, North Korea successfully placed the Kwangmyongsong-3 into orbit around 500 km above the earth’s surface on its long-range Unha-3 carrier rocket. But the Kwangmyongsong-3 is estimated to have weighed far less than one ton.

Both the AP and Reuters also published bulletins stating that South Korea had made important strides in its ambitious space plans with the successful launch of an independently produced rocket.

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper also focused attention on the launch with a bulletin stating that South Korea had “launched the Nuri, its first domestically produced space rocket capable of carrying a satellite.” Kyodo News noted that the Nuri’s launch “took place at a time when North Korea’s missile testing has caused tensions for neighboring countries, including South Korea and Japan.”

State-run media in Russia and China were quick to report on the Nuri’s launch, describing it as South Korea’s first launch vehicle based on independent technology.

The BBC also described South Korea as the seventh country to successfully launch a rocket into space in its report on the Nuri’s launch.

At the same time, it reported that the test “has also been viewed as part of the country's ongoing ramp-up in weapons development,” noting that “[b]allistic missiles and space rockets use similar technology.”

By Gil Yun-hyung, staff reporter

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