World South Korea seeks space race entry with first homegrown rocket
N Korea's Kim vows to build 'invincible military'
Weeks after a series of missile tests, Kim Jong-un said weapons are necessary for defence, but not war.Kim Jong-un added that weapons development was for self-defence, and not to start a war.
South Korea is aiming to join the ranks of advanced spacefaring nations on Thursday when it attempts to put a one-tonne payload into orbit using its first fully homegrown rocket.
The country has risen to become the world's 12th-largest economy and a technologically advanced nation, home to the planet's biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, Samsung Electronics.
But it has lagged in the headline-making world of spaceflight, where the Soviet Union led the way with the first satellite launch in 1957, closely followed by the United States.
Star Trek actor William Shatner becomes the oldest person ever blasted into space
William Shatner has reached the final frontier. At 90 years old, the Star Trek actor entered space aboard Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space shuttle on Wednesday morning (2am Thursday AEDT), becoming the oldest person in history to "boldly go where no man has gone before". Shatner, who turned 90 in March, gained international fame playing the iconic role of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, but made a very real trek to outer space today if only for a brief suborbital joyride aboard a New Shepard rocket.
In Asia, China, Japan and India all have advanced space programmes, and the South's nuclear-armed neighbour North Korea was the most recent entrant to the club of countries with their own satellite launch capability.
Ballistic missiles and space rockets use similar technology and Pyongyang put a 300-kilogramme (660-pound) satellite into orbit in 2012 in what Western countries condemned as a disguised missile test.
Even now, only six nations -- not including North Korea -- have successfully launched a one-tonne payload on their own rockets.
The South will become the seventh if the Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II, informally called Nuri, succeeds in putting its 1.5-tonne dummy cargo into orbit from the launch site in Goheung, with an altitude of 600 to 800 kilometres being targeted.
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William Shatner got his oldest-in-space record for free, but most commercial astronauts will have to pay for their historic milestones.Shatner, clad in a cobalt-blue spacesuit, took that rocket to the edge of space this morning, along with three other passengers, for a few minutes of weightlessness and a beautiful view. Captain Kirk has now made it to space and back. Insert your favorite Star Trek reference here.
The three-stage rocket has been a decade in development at a cost of 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion). It weighs 200 tonnes and is 47.2 metres (155 feet) long, fitted with a total of six liquid-fuelled engines.
Video: S.Korea preps for first domestic rocket's launch (Reuters)
- Aiming for the Moon -
But the South Korean space programme has a chequered record -- its first two launches in 2009 and 2010, which in part used Russian technology, both ended in failure, the second one exploding two minutes into the flight and Seoul and Moscow blaming each other.
Eventually a 2013 launch succeeded, but still relied on a Russian-developed engine for its first stage.
The satellite launch business is increasingly the preserve of private companies, notably Elon Musk's SpaceX, whose clients include the US space agency NASA and the South Korean military.
China rocket blasts off for longest crewed mission to space station
China on Saturday launched a rocket carrying three astronauts to its new space station on what is set to be the country's longest crewed mission to date, state media said, in the latest landmark in Beijing's drive to become a major extraterrestrial power. The Chinese space agency is planning a total of 11 missions to Tiangong through to the end of next year, including at least two more crewed launches that will deliver two lab modules to expand the 70-tonne station.China's space ambitions have been fuelled in part by a US ban on its astronauts on the International Space Station, a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.
But one expert said a successful Nuri launch offered South Korea "infinite" potential.
"Rockets are the only means available to mankind to go out into space," Lee Sang-ryul, the director of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, told local paper Chosun Biz.
"Having such technology means we have fulfilled basic requirements to join this space exploration competition."
Thursday's launch is one step on an increasingly ambitious space programme for South Korea, which President Moon Jae-in said would seek to launch a lunar orbiter next year, after he inspected a Nuri engine test in March.
"With achievements in South Korean rocket systems, the government will pursue an active space exploration project," he said.
"We will realise the dream of landing our probe on the Moon by 2030."
NASA targeting February for launch of first moon rocket since Apollo mission .
NASA is now targeting February 2022 for the launch of its powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Stacked with the agency's Orion crew capsule, the SLS is 332 feet tall and currently sits at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. US MILITARY LAUNCHES 3 SUBORBITAL ROCKETS IN TEST OF HYPERSONIC TECHNOLOGIES SLS will launch the next generation of deep space operations, including Artemis missions, on and around the moon. It was initially slated to take off in November but has run behind schedule.