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From glitch to glory: Arirang's on-site coverage of Nuri space rocket launch Updated: 2022-06-27 06:05:17 KST

"All right, this is gonna be your first rocket launch."

"Very excited, a bit nervous actually, we're gonna be on site for a historical launch, right? The second launch of Nuri. It's something I've only seen in the movies. Tom Hanks. Apollo 13. But to actually be there, what an exciting experience it'll be."

"Alright, let's go."

"All righty."


Despite all this excitement about an hour into the drive south we got some news.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute decided to push back the launch by 24 hours due to the weather just minutes before Arirang TV's first newscast of the day.
And we had to stop at a rest point to break the story.

"This just in the scheduled second launch of Nuri which was set to take place on Wednesday has been pushed back to Thursday."

"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."

Nuri stands almost 50 meters tall and the engineers would be working from the umbilical tower exposed to potential risks.
The cables mentioned would be crucial in connecting the rocket to the control room.
The umbilical cords would provide the fuel and oxidizers needed for the launch.
The engineers also assured the public that there are no problems with the rocket itself.
And it showed as after the 24 hour delay all steps seemed to be on course.
Addressing the press at the time, officials cautiously concluded they feel good about Nuri's chances for Thursday with the weather forecast also in the rocket's favor.

"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."

"All right, one day left. Tomorrow, Nuri will be going on its second launch. And now today, what it'll be doing is it'll be moved, transported to the launch pad through a transporter vehicle that'll happen at 7:20 AM. That's what we're going to cover today. The weather's looking a bit foggy. It's not raining though, and it's not windy either. And yesterday, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute did say that they feel good about the weather moving forward. So I'm looking forward to seeing it be moved to the launch pad. And and that's where all the umbilical cables, electrical cables will be connected. And one day left, one day left, people. So tomorrow, at around 4 PM, the exact time has yet to be decided but that's when Nuri will be soaring into the skies and sending actual satellites into orbit hopefully. if it succeeds on its mission."

And the transportation process went smoothly with hardly any wind, the sun shining bright and Nuri standing fully upright on its launch pad by around 11 AM, Wednesday.
Then another sudden announcement a day before lift-off: a technical glitch detected at around 2 PM in the oxidizer level sensor in the rocket's first stage meant Nuri had to be transported from the launch pad back to where it was assembled.

"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."

"Too bad, Nuri can't be launched on Thursday."

"Yeah, look on the bright side, though. What a relief the issue was detected. We can always come back with a coverage when the rocket is in tip top shape."

"True, true. I mean it's not a failed launch. The cancellation itself just shows how many checks there are."

"Yeah, we'll just have to see when the next launch date is. And hopefully it happens soon. And you know, we'll be back for it."

"Well, I guess that wraps up our on-site coverage for now then."

"That's right, let's pack up and get back home."

But just when it seemed as though it would be postponed for several weeks Nuri's launch was suddenly back on.

"At first, we thought Nuri's first and second stages would have to be separated to replace the problematic sensor itself but researchers at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, after close examination, found the issue could be solved by replacing just one key part that was malfunctioning."

Replacing the sensor's core and not the sensor itself was enough to do the job removing the need for them to disassemble the rocket and allowing the country to launch Nuri within its alternative launch window ending June 23rd.

"Well, Seong-woo, it's great to hear everything's going to plan. No one wants to see another delay, least of all you, I'd imagine because you've been up and down between there and Seoul for the past number of days. But what exactly is the plan between right now and the launch that's due to happen in around four hours from now?"
"Well, beginning around four hours before the launch, that's about right now assuming no irregularities arise during last minute inspections, the fuel and oxidizer charging process will begin after which the erector keeping Nuri stable on its launch pad will be removed."

And so it happened: one more trip to the launch pad, fuel injection, pre-launch operation and finally three, two, one lift-off.
With a roar, the ground shook before Nuri, powered by four first stage 75-ton liquid-fuel engines, blasted into space.

"Now Seong-woo, what a sight that was. I mean Nuri blasting off into space. I imagine the Naro Space Center was in high spirits and currently is in high spirits right now."

"The three stage space rocket, after reaching its target altitude of 700 kilometers, placed both its performance verification satellite holding four functioning mini cube satellites and its 1.3-ton dummy satellite into orbit seventy seconds apart at around four fifteen PM."

Claps of joy ensued and an hour later, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and the Ministry of Science and ICT held a joint presser on site declaring "mission accomplished."

"Nuri reached its target altitude and successfully placed the performance satellite into orbit."

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol watched the event from his office in Yongsan-gu District, Seoul.
He called it a product of thirty years of effort and promised more support for the country's space program.

"Like I promised in my pledge, the South Korean government will establish a national aerospace agency and systematically grow the industry. Thank you so much. Fantastic job, everyone."

With four more launches scheduled by 2027, our crew left Naro Space Center the following morning knowing that though the Nuri project is far from over South Korea's space endeavors have only just begun.
From the Naro Space Center in Goheung, Jeollanam-do Province, that was Kim Do-yeon, Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.
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