TOKYO, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea’s KSLV-1 carrier rocket placed a research satellite into its designated orbit on Wednesday, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) reported, putting Seoul into the club of space powers.
Wednesday’s successful launch makes South Korea the 13th nation to have launched a rocket with a satellite from its soil.
The 140-ton rocket, powered by a Russian-made RD-191 first stage motor, was launched at 4 p.m. local time (7:00 a.m. GMT) from the Naro Space Center, some 480 kilometers (300 miles) south of Seoul.
Its Science and Technology Satellite 2C (STSAT 2C) will collect data on space radiation.
The success of the launch comes after a string of failures, most spectacularly in 2009 when a KSLV-1 rocket exploded two minutes after lift-off while delivering a 100-kilogram (220 lb) oceanic and atmospheric research satellite into orbit.
Two previous launches in October and November 2012 were cancelled due to technical failures, including a fuel leak in the Russian-made first-stage.
Russia’s Khrunichev Space Center built the KSLV-1's first stage under a 2004 agreement. The solid-fuel second stage and the satellite payload were designed and built in South Korea.
The launch comes just a month after rival North Korea launched a rocket with a satellite into space on December 29. An earlier launch in April 2012 by the DPRK ended in failure. North Korea's rocket program has been met with widespread international condemnation, as many nations suspect it is the basis of an intercontinental ballistic missile project.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.