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S. Korean deploys Aegis ships to track rocket launch
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) - The South Korean military has deployed two Aegis destroyers off its southern coast to trace a space rocket to be launched later this week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

   The two Aegis warships with an advanced radar system left for the nation's southern waters to follow the path of the two-stage Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) after it takes off at Naro Space Center on the south coast on Thursday.

   "Two Aegis warships have been deployed to guard southern waters near Naro Space Center to support the successful launch of the space rocket," a JCS official said.


One of the two ships, the King Sejong, is responsible for tracking the rocket from the beginning until its second stage ignition, while the other, the Seoae Ryu Seong-yong, will follow thereafter until combustion is over, officials said.

   The SPY-1 radar system aboard the Aegis ships can track hundreds of targets as far as 1,000 kilometers away.

   The King Sejong demonstrated superb tracking capabilities when North Korea fired off a long-range rocket in April in an apparent attempt to test missile technology. It is the first time for Seoae Ryu Seong-yong to conduct the tracking mission.

   The Navy has mobilized high-speed vessels, patrol ships and destroyers to guard the waters off the space center and help evacuate civilian vessels from the area.

   The Air Force will fly patrol aircrafts and the early warning aircraft "Peace Eye" for aerial guard and set a "no-fly" zone from Tuesday at midnight to make sure no civilian aircrafts enter the area, official said.

   The scheduled launch will be South Korea's third attempt to send a space rocket into space from its own soil. Its first two attempts in 2009 and 2010 ended in failures.