This blast on October 21st signaled a huge step forward for South Korea’s space program the first launch of KSLV-2 or Nuri… South Korea’s first independently developed rocket.
"The dummy satellite reached the altitude of 700 kilometers. But, it couldn't target a lower orbit because the speed was less than 7.five kilometers per second. Nuri's first stage separation, fairing separation and second stage separation was done right but the 7-ton engine in the third stage could not combust for 521 seconds. Rather, it ended after 475 seconds."
The whole nation was following the 16 minutes that the rocket was blasting into space.
It was covered by all the major national broadcasters… with even foreign correspondents present.
Arirang News also had a team there.
"It's early in the morning and we are heading to Goheung county, Jeollanam-do Province from Seoul because we'll be covering Nuri, South Korea's first homegrown rocket."
The development of space technology will give South Korea the autonomy to send various objects into orbit and with a more flexible schedule.
Nuri carries a one.five ton mock payload into a low orbit of 600 to 800 kilometers.
The country has spent one.six-five billion U.S. dollars on the project during 11 years of development.
In 2013, South Korea successfully launched "Naro," its first-ever space vehicle, but its first stage was built using Russian technology.
This time for Nuri, more than 300 South Korean companies participated and supplied parts to the rocket.
All the hard work that was done over the past decade now has been assembled, ready to be shot up into space from Naro Space Center located at one of the southernmost parts of the country’s mainland.
"We just drove through the toll gate for Goheung county. So we just entered the county where Naro Space Center is located. But check this out, this is a map of the county and we entered through here so Naro Space Center is all the way down here so it's at a very remote area."
After arriving at Goheung, our team began with the live coverage in the evening.
I'm done with the live report. It’s freezing out here. I've been sitting here for three to four hours."
The success rate is about 30 percent, but the launch is not a one-time thing.
South Korea is in the process of development which means launching the rocket multiple times to check and fix any flaws.
Nuri is also part of the country's plan to build a 6G communication network.
The night before the launch, the engineers were still hard at work, checking that everything is ready for the big day.
"There's a lot of pressure, so even if we tested it numerous times, as you know, a rocket has more than 300-thousand parts. But, those parts have to work as planned and according to our sequence. We work as hard as we can, but there's always going to be pressure for us."
"As engineers, we believe that the launch will 100-percent be a success. But as all things do, even if we believe in it, unless destiny is on our side, it may not go our way."
Finally D-day came, and our team was busy as well.
Starting with an 8 AM live segment, throughout the day the team provided updates while getting ready for the main coverage at 3:30 PM ahead of the 4 PM scheduled launch time.
But at around 2:30, the launch time was delayed an hour to 5 PM.
These things… don’t tend to go as smoothly as planned, those who had covered the Naro launch years before told the crew meaning they anticipated further delays.
"So about an hour ago the official announcement said the launch has been delayed for an hour so it's now 5 PM. Otherwise, we would have been getting ready for our on air show by now, but now we will be going on air an hour later. The rocket itself doesn't have a problem, but it may be the launchpad."
But luckily… the newly set time was good.
"I thought I smelled some burning because of the engine. And the shaking and the noise"
At 5 PM, the rocket engines roared into action, propelling it into the sky.
President Moon Jae-in delivered the result himself about an hour after the launch… saying despite the shortfalls… the launch’s results were positive.
"We still have the unfinished task of putting a dummy satellite into orbit. If we review and make up for today's shortfalls, we will be able to see success in our next launch in May next year."
"This is only the first launch of Nuri which has been under development for eleven years. So regardless of the result, we have to encourage the engineers and scientists who have worked so hard to develop a space vehicle from scratch.
Jang Tae-hyun, Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News, Goheung."