South Korea Reached Major Space Milestones in 2022

The maiden launch of South Korea’s Nuri booster. (Credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute)

On June 21, South Korea’s domestically manufactured Nuri rocket roared off the pad at the Naro Space Center and placed satellites into orbit for the first time. Six months later, South Korea’s first lunar probe entered orbit around the moon, putting an exclamation point on a breakthrough year for the emerging Asian space power.


77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.


South Korea Launches First Domestically Produced Rocket

Nuri rocket lifts off from the Naro Space Center on June 21, 2022. (Credit: KARI)

South Korea successfully launched a fully domestically produced Nuri rocket for the first time on Tuesday, orbiting multiple satellites in a major breakthrough for the Asian nation’s space program.

The three-stage rocket lifted off at 4 p.m. local time carrying a 1.3 metric ton dummy satellite, a smaller 162.5 kg satellite whose purpose was to verify Nuri’s performance, and four research CubeSats developed by universities. The verification satellite confirmed it had entered orbit when it made contact with a communications station in Antarctica.

“The sky of the Korean universe is now wide open. Our science and technology has made great strides,” said Lee Jong-ho, minister of Science and Information Communications Technology (ICT).

The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which is South Korea’s space agency, designed the domestically produced rocket to place 1.5 metric tons into low Earth orbit.

Nuri failed during its maiden flight last October due to the premature shut down of its third-stage engine. An investigation found that a helium tank broke loose due to a design flaw, causing a leak that shut down the engine.

It was the second successful satellite launch from South Korea. In 2013, a Naro-1 rocket launched a small satellite after two earlier failures. Naro-1 used a Russian first stage and a South Korean second stage.

South Korea Delays Nuri Launch Vehicle’s Second Flight by 1 Month

The maiden launch of South Korea’s Nuri booster. (Credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute)

South Korea has postponed the second flight of its Nuri (KSLV-II) booster by a month to mid-June to allow engineers to correct flaws that caused the rocket to fail on its maiden flight in October.

Nuri’s second flight is schedule for June 15, with the launch window extending until June 23, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said in a press release. The original launch date was May 19.

Nuri failed on its maiden flight when the rocket’s third shut down prematurely due to a leak in the oxidizer tank. A dummy payload was released, but it was not able to enter orbit due to the early engine shutdown. KARI has said that the first two stages performed as expected.

Nuri is South Korea’s first domestically produced launch vehicle. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 1,500 kg into low Earth orbit.

Thales Alenia Space to Provide State-of-the-Art Digital Processor for Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-3 Communications Satellite

GEO-KOMPSAT-3 satellite (Credit: ETRI)

MADRID, January 31, 2022 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), announced today that it has signed a contract with the South Korean aerospace manufacturer and defense company, LIG Nex1 Co., Ltd., to provide a state-of-the-art Digital Processor for the GEO-KOMPSAT-3 communications satellite.


South Korean Satellite Launch Fails as Third Stage Falters

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The maiden flight of South Korea’s first domestically produced satellite launch vehicle failed on Thursday due to the premature shutdown of the rocket’s third stage, the nation’s space agency said.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the Nuri’s rocket’s first and second stages performed nominally after liftoff from the Naro Space Center at 5 p.m. local time. The failure of the booster’s third stage meant it was unable to place a dummy payload into low Earth orbit. Engineers are analyzing data from the flight to determine what caused the premature shutdown.


NASA Selects Nine Scientists to Join Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter Mission

A high-definition image of the Mars Australe lava plain on the Moon taken by Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter in November 2007. (Credits: JAXA/NHK)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected nine scientists to join the upcoming Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission. Set to launch in August 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and orbit the Moon for about a year, KPLO is the first space exploration mission of the Republic of Korea (ROK) that will travel beyond Earth orbit.


Thales Alenia Space to Build Four High-Res Radar Sats for Korea

Radar satellite (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

Seoul, Daejeon, December 5th, 2018 (Thales Alenia Space PR)  – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), today announced that it has signed two contracts with Korea, one with Aerospace Industries, LTD. (KAI) and one with Hanwha Systems Corporation (HSC) to develop a constellation of high-resolution observation radar satellites for the Agency for Defence Development  (ADD), known as Korea “425 Project”,  so serve South Korea.