(2nd LD) S. Korea to launch space rocket Nuri following delay

South Korea said Thursday it will launch its homegrown space rocket Nuri later in the day after solving a computer glitch.

The launch management committee, which oversees the entire process, decided to launch the rocket at 6:24 p.m. at Naro Space Center in the southern coastal village of Goheung, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

The decision came a day after the committee called off the launch due to a communications problem between a launch control computer and a launch pad facility control computer about three hours before liftoff.

South Korean aerospace engineers have inspected the system overnight and fixed the problem.

Despite the cancellation, the rocket has remained erected on the launch pad for a possible retrial.

"During the overnight examination, engineers found out the defect in a helium tank facility of the launch pad and revised its control program," Vice Science Minister Oh Tae-seog said in a press briefing. "We've repeated tests and checked the system is working well."

The ministry and KARI said no other technical problems have been detected, and the weather is favorable and all payload satellites are in good condition.

The engineers will begin injecting fuel and oxidizer into the rocket at 4 p.m., and the prelaunch operation, or an automatic system that oversees the final preflight checkouts, will begin 10 minutes before liftoff.

It is not the first time that Nuri's launch has been postponed due to technical issues.

In June last year, South Korea delayed its second launch for five days due to a technical glitch in the rocket's oxidizer tank sensor.

After the postponement, Nuri successfully blasted off from Naro Space Center and sent a dummy satellite into its target orbit as planned, making South Korea the seventh country in the world to have developed a space launch vehicle that can carry a more than 1-ton satellite, after Russia, the United States, France, China, Japan and India.

The country has secured the key independent technology for developing and launching space rockets carrying homegrown satellites, opening up a new era in the country's space program.

The 2 trillion-won (US$1.52 billion) Nuri project that began in 2010 will continue until 2027, with three additional rocket launches.

On the third attempt, Nuri will carry eight payload satellites, including the country's second next-generation small satellite, the NEXTSAT-2, and put them into orbit.

The NEXTSAT-2 will be released 783 seconds after liftoff, and the other seven will be deployed at 20-second intervals.

Source: Yonhap News Agency