South Korea is a sovereign state in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighboured by China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. With an estimated population of 50 million, it covers a total area 98,480 square kilometres which includes partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys. Its main exports are wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles and computers. Korea was one nation under the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule. Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945 and three years later the country split in two, beginning decades of conflict between North and South. The current president of The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is Park Geun-hye. She is the first woman to be elected as President in South Korea.
South Korea set for new satellite launch
Agence-France Presse in Seoul
South Korea will make another bid at the end of this month to put a satellite in orbit and gain entry to an elite global space club that includes Asian powers China, India and Japan.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced on Wednesday a January 30-February 8 window for launching the 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) from the Naro Space Centre on the south coast.
“By the end of this week, the first and second stages will be connected and next week, rehearsals will take place,” a ministry official said.
Following failed attempts in 2009 and 2010, a successful launch is considered crucial to South Korea’s commercial space ambitions.
The current attempt has already been postponed twice for technical reasons after launch dates were set in October and then November.
The KSLV-1 has a first stage manufactured by Russia, with a solid-fuel second stage built in South Korea.
In 2009, the carrier achieved orbit, but faulty release mechanisms on its second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite.
A 2010 effort saw the carrier explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea blaming each other.
Last month, North Korea successfully launched its own long-range rocket, which Pyongyang said was a purely scientific mission to place a satellite in orbit.
Most of the world saw it as a disguised ballistic missile test that violated UN resolutions imposed after the North’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Seoul’s space ambitions were restricted for many years by its main military ally the United States, which feared that a robust missile or rocket programme would accelerate a regional arms race, especially with North Korea.
Japan and China both achieved their first satellite launches back in 1970, and India made its breakthrough in 1980. But the lack of US support contributed to South Korea, Asia’s fourth largest economy, lagging behind.
Soon after joining the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2001, South Korea made Russia its go-to space partner.
The KSLV-1 will deploy a small satellite that will mainly collect data on space radiation.