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South Korea Successfully Tests KSLV-II Rocket Engine In Suborbital Flight

An artist’s rendering of the KSLV-II launch vehicle. Image courtesy of KARI.

South Korea successfully conducted its rocket engine test for the Korean Space Launch Vehicle-II (KSLV-II) on 28 November 2018 in a suborbital launch, clearing the way for the development of its own satellite launch vehicle.

The engine test was originally scheduled for 25-31 October 2018 but was delayed due to a reported pressurization issue with the engine.

A liquid-fuel engine successfully lofted a single-stage version of the KSLV-II weighing 52 tonnes and measuring 25.8 meters long from the Naro Space Centre on the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The engine, designed and developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is part of a U.S.$1.8 billion project to build South Korea’s first indigenous three-stage launch vehicle, the KSLV-II.

“This is a significant step forward in developing a launch vehicle with our own technology,” a KARI spokesman said.

On its maiden launch scheduled for 2021 the KSLV-II will use five of the recently tested engines comprising of a cluster of four for the first stage and another one for the second stage.

The 28 November test was declared successful as the engine combustion was maintained for over 140 seconds during the test launch, Yonhap said.

The original suborbital flight parameters called for the launch to last approximately ten minutes during which the performance of the engine, including its control systems, was monitored. It was expected that the rocket reach a suborbital altitude of approximately 100 kilometres about 160 seconds after launch, and reach apogee at about 300 seconds. The rocket splashed down in the sea separating South Korea’s Jeju Island and Japan’s Okinawa Island.

“This test launch will serve as an important step for South Korea’s development of its indigenous space rocket and eventually make our country a powerhouse in the sector,” said Lee Jin-kyu, South Korea’s vice science minister, at the time when the engine test was first announced.

KARI has already carried out 91 static fire tests of the engine, and has fired the engine for up to 260 seconds.

The KSLV-II launch vehicle will be the first wholly indigenously designed and built rocket in South Korea and is expected to become the workhorse for all domestic satellite launches as well as used for commercial placement of satellites in to orbit.

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