South Korea has spent $1.7 billion developing a domestic rocket system for more than a decade.
Receiving the fruits of all these efforts, the country successfully launched a satellite into space for the first time this week, joining the USA, Russia, France, China, Japan and India as the seventh country. The next target is to launch an unmanned lander to the Moon in 2030 using a domestic rocket.
The three-stage rocket, called “Nuri”, which is 47 meters long and weighs 200 tons, was launched from the Luo Lao Cosmos Center on the south coast of the country at 16:00 local time.
In addition to a 162.5 kg performance verification satellite, the rocket carries four cube satellites and a 1.3-tonne satellite for academic research that will perform Earth observation missions for up to two years.
Although South Korea is the tenth largest economy in the world, its space program lags behind many other wealthy countries.
South Korean officials hope the plan will help turn South Korea into a space powerhouse and stimulate a private space industry in addition to a government-led space program. Nuri means earth in Korean and means hope to bridge this gap in space technology.
According to the data of the South Korean government, South Korea’s investment in space research in 2021 is 616 million dollars and is well below the United States’ 48 billion dollars in the same period. Since 2010, South Korea has spent more than $1.7 billion on the Nuri program.