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S Korea, Russia probe rocket failure

The Naro-1 rocket veered off course and exploded 137 seconds after blast-off on Thursday.

SEOUL (AFP): South Korean and Russian experts have launched an investigation after the fiery failure of the Asian country's latest rocket launch, which some researchers blamed on inadequate testing.

The Naro-1 rocket, which was Russian-made but assembled in South Korea, veered off course and exploded 137 seconds after blast-off Thursday.

The mishap came after a first rocket failure last year, thwarting South Korea's plans to launch a scientific satellite and setting back its dreams of joining Asia's space race.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the debris fell into the sea, some 470 kilometres south of the Naro Space Centre's launch pad off the southern coast.

KARI Friday convened a meeting of a joint investigation committee of the two countries to determine the cause of the failure, a spokesman for the Education, Science and Technology Ministry said.

"It went wrong after the first-stage rocket completed two-thirds of its work," KARI research fellow Chae Yeon-Seok told AFP.

Researchers said this was verified by video from a camera mounted on the rocket as well as live TV footage, which both showed a sudden brightening and orange flames of an explosion.

South Korea was trying to join an exclusive club currently numbering nine nations that have put a satellite into orbit using a domestically assembled rocket.

Its first attempt failed last August when fairings on the nose cone of the Naro-1 did not open properly to release the satellite.


Rocket   space   KARI  

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