SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea was set to launch its first commercial-grade satellite Wednesday as rival North Korea pushed plans forward to place its first military spy satellite into orbit.
The South Korean satellite will be launched by a domestically made rocket under the country’s space development program. Seoul officials say its launch has no military purpose, but many experts say it will eventually help South Korea acquire technologies and knowhow required to operate military surveillance satellites and build more powerful missiles.
The Nuri space launch vehicle was scheduled to lift off early Wednesday evening from a launch facility on a southern South Korean island, if no unexpected weather or other problems occur at the last minute, according to the Science Ministry.
Aboard the rocket are the main satellite, called “Next Generation Small Satellite 2,” and seven other smaller, cube-shaped satellites. The main one is tasked with verifying imaging radar technology and observing cosmic radiation in near-Earth orbit, a ministry statement said.
Wednesday’s launch is the third of its kind involving Nuri, South Korea’s first homegrown rocket.
In its first launch in 2021, the rocket’s dummy payload reached the desired altitude but failed to enter orbit. In its second attempt last year, South Korea successfully put what it called a “performance verification satellite” into orbit in a launch mainly designed to examine the Nuri rocket. South Korea became the world’s