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South Korea postpones launch of homegrown rocket

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea on Wednesday postponed the launch of its homegrown Nuri rocket after a technical glitch was detected just hours before lift-off, officials said.

It was the third planned launch of Nuri, following a failed first attempt and a successful second mission last year.

Nuri rocket sits on its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea. PHOTO: AP

A communication error between the launch control computer and another computer managing the launch pad was detected during preparation, forcing officials to postpone, said Vice Minister of Science and ICT Oh Tae-seog.

“It’s currently believed there is no problem with the projectile itself, so it will remain erected” while scientists and software engineers try to resolve the issue, Oh said in a briefing.

In previous tests the rocket carried payloads mainly designed for verifying the performance of the launch vehicle.

This time, the rocket was set to be topped with eight working satellites, including a “commercial-grade satellite”, according to the country’s Science Ministry.

The three-stage rocket, more than 47 metres long and weighing 200 tonnes, was supposed to be launched from the Naro Space Center in South Korea’s southern coastal region at 6.24pm local time.

Nuri was transferred and erected at the launch pad on Tuesday.

“The third launch is aimed at putting a domestically developed satellite with observation missions into the target orbit,” Ko Jeong-hwan, director of the Nuri rocket project at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), told reporters earlier.

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