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S Korean space rocket crashes minutes after lift off


The Naro-1 after lift off. A Yonhap photo

SEOUL (BNS): South Korea's Naro-1 space rocket carrying a satellite crashed few seconds after liftoff on Thursday.

Ground controllers said they lost contact with the two-stage carrier rocket 137 seconds after it was launched from the Naro Space Centre off the country's south coast at 0801 GMT on Thursday.

“The rocket was at an altitude of 70 kilometers and about 87 kilometers from the Naro Space Center when all communication was severed,” the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) President Lee Joo-jin was quoted as saying by the official Yonhap news agency.

In a subsequent report, the news agency said that the rocket may have crashed after reaching altitude of 70km. There were several explosions, it said.

The 140-ton Naro-1 was built with Russia’s help. The rocket had a Russian-built first stage with a liquid-fueled engine and a Korean-built second stage and payload fairing.

The rocket was earlier scheduled to be launched on Wednesday but it was postponed after engineers discovered a leak in one of the three oil fire extinguisher nozzles of the rocket.

This was South Korea’s second attempt to launch the rocket in space. A previous attempt in August 2009 had also ended in failure.

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