Nuri space rocket's 2nd launch set for June 21; sensor malfunction addressed
Updated: 2022-06-17 17:16:22 KST
South Korea initially planned to launch its first space rocket developed entirely with domestic technology - the Nuri - for the second time yesterday and thrust actual satellites into orbit.
But a technical error prevented the historic event from happening this week.
But, authorities have just announced they'll carry out the launch next Tuesday.
For more, we have with us here in the studio our very own Han Seong-woo, who until Thursday, was covering the event on-site at the Naro Space Center.
Seong-woo, first and foremost, what's the latest?
You just said it, Jung-min.
Next Tuesday, June 21st is the new date the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute have set for Nuri's second launch.
After a Launch Management Committee meeting at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, Jeollanam-do Province some 400 kilometers from here authorities, announced they replaced the key parts of the oxidizer level sensor in the rocket's first stage that showed irregularities this week and confirmed the sensor now works fine.
Engineers first detected the problem on Wednesday, one day before the previous launch date, at two-oh-five in the afternoon while Nuri was standing fully upright on its launch pad which forced them to transport Nuri back to where it was assembled.
Let's take a listen to what the authorities had to say then.
"After trying to figure out the issue at the launch pad, we realized it was not possible to get up close and analyze the problem while it's standing up. That's why we decided it's impossible to carry out the launch at the moment."
The sensor's readings were supposed to change in value during the rocket's erection process but reportedly remained static.
Engineers said at the time if it was an issue with the electrical cable or terminal box, fixing the problem wouldn't take too long but if something went wrong with the sensor itself
they feared they would have to separate Nuri's first and second stages, which, along with other considerations like the monsoon season, could've pushed the launch back way past June 23rd, the last day of Nuri's alternative launch window possibly to autumn.
Luckily, even though it was the sensor that was the problem Nuri will lift off within the window..
How did you and the rest of our team feel after officials made the announcement that it'd be postponed? What was the atmosphere there like?
Well, now I'm thrilled that it's happening next week but at the time it was a mix of emotions really shock, disappointment and then relief.
Relief because the problem was found a day in advance, not minutes before blast-off or after.
Nuri had already soared into the sky which would've been a disaster on so many levels.
Disappointment in the sense that the six-hour drive to Goheung and all the hours of in-depth coverage didn't culminate in witnessing with my own two eyes an historic launch that would've catapulted South Korea into one of the world's seven so-called "space powers."
It was a shock considering final preparations all seemed to go according to plan leading up to that moment when the malfunction was found.
Looking back, though, I do remember an engineer telling us that anything could happen.
"We think it's highly likely the launch will be a success then again, there's no guarantee that unexpected variables won't pop up last minute so we're not letting down our guard."
As you know, in our makeshift studio on site I was covering Nuri's transportation to its launch pad on Wednesday as it was taking place and believe me, everything felt right: the sun shining, hardly any wind blowing, time tables being kept and engineers telling journalists beforehand there had been no mechanical issues whatsoever..
Speaking of the weather, Seong-woo, authorities first delayed the launch by a day due to bad weather, correct?
Correct. Tuesday saw a bit of sporadic rainfall but it was actually strong winds that pushed the 1.8 kilometer transportation of Nuri from its assembly site to the launch pad back exactly 24 hours to take place between 7:20 and 8:30 Wednesday morning.
Which then, of course, postponed the launch itself by a day as well to 4 PM Thursday at the time.
The delay was strictly a precaution, though as I heard from an insider that there were officials who actually wanted the launch to go ahead as planned despite the weather.
Wind speeds were under fifteen meters per second enough for Nuri to withstand
I was outdoors for the majority of Tuesday as well and, compared to Wednesday, it felt like winter but wind speeds were around five meters per second.
Authorities later explained, though, that the strong winds posed no problem to the rocket itself, but instead the safety and performance of engineers who'd later be working on the launch site connecting Nuri to its umbilical cables.
"Today's weather forecast posed obstacles to the transportation of the rocket, and once it's erected the screening of umbilical cords and connecting the cables could've been dangerous for the engineers."
Well, hoping next Tuesday's launch goes according to plan. Thank you for sharing your coverage with us Seong-woo.