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Russian-built first stage unlikely to cause S.Korean rocket explosion - expert

RIA Novosti

06:37 18/06/2010

MISSION CONTROL (Moscow Region), June 18 (RIA Novosti) - An explosion of a South Korean rocket last week was not caused by Russian-built first stage of the spacecraft, a deputy head of the Russian Federal Space Agency said.

The KSLV-1 (The First Korean Space Launch Vehicle) rocket-carrier with STSAT-2B climate satellite onboard blasted off on June 10 at noon Moscow time [08:00 GMT] and exploded two minutes after take-off.

"The commission investigating causes of the accident continues its work and has several versions. But I am almost positive that the breakdown of the KSLV-1 rocket-carrier was not caused by Russia's first stage," Vitaly Davydov said.

The rocket was developed jointly by the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. It weighs 140 metric tons, has a diameter of 3 meters (10 feet) and a height of 33 meters (108 feet).

It was the second unsuccessful attempt to launch the rocket in South Korea.

The previous two-stage KSLV-1 rocket failed to deliver a 100-kilogram oceanic and atmospheric research satellite into its target orbit on August 25, 2009. It was described by President Lee Myung-bak as a "half success" as the first and second stages separated as planned, but one of the two fairings covering the satellite failed to fall off.

South Korea began developing its own space program in 1996. Seoul has already launched 11 satellites since 1992, using foreign carrier rockets and launch sites.

Seoul plans to build a more powerful rocket named KSLV-2 and launch it by 2018 without foreign assistance. The vehicle is expected to be a 50-meter (164-foot) three-stage rocket, capable of carrying a payload of up to one metric ton.

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