South Korea has taken its first step towards launching an orbital mission with the launch of their KSLV-II TLV vehicle. The suborbital launch vehicle is a test bed for the country’s KRE-075 rocket engine.
The KSLV-II TLV rocket launched from the Naro Space Center at 07:00 UTC this morning (16:00 local time). Following the launch, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) confirmed the mission had been successful. The rocket reached an apogee of 209.1 kilometres (129.9 miles) with a burn time of 151 seconds. The spent rocket splashdown in the East China Sea off the coast of Japan’s Jeju Province.
This morning’s launch validates South Korea’s KRE-075 rocket engine. The engine will be used to power the country’s KSLV-II orbital launch vehicle.
Nicknamed Nuri, the KSLV-II is a three-stage rocket being developed by KARI. The rocket is expected to be capable of launching payloads of 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) into low Earth orbit.
When developing the KSLV-II, KARI used the SpaceX Falcon 1 as inspiration. The result is a small payload launcher with a reusable first stage that can be launched for as little as $30 million. In the highly competitive small launch vehicle market, today’s success and an affordable price tag could see the Nuri securing launch contracts from civil and commercial customers throughout South-East Asia.