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Twitter Send 2010/06/10 19:17 KST
(rocket launch) S. Korea's rocket appears to have exploded during ascent: minister

By Lee Joon-seung
NARO SPACE CENTER, South Korea, June 10 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean rocket carrying a scientific satellite is believed to have exploded on Thursday a little more than two minutes after takeoff, the country's science minister said.

   Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ahn Byong-man told reporters that the Naro-1 space rocket appears to have blown up 137 seconds after it lifted off from a space center on the country's south coast.

"An inboard camera detected a bright flash of light at 137 seconds into the flight, which coincides exactly with the loss of communication with the two-stage rocket," he said.

   The camera located in the second-stage rocket was looking down toward the Earth when it picked up the image.

   The official said that talks are underway with the Russian experts who made the first-stage rocket to determine the exact cause of why the rocket was lost.

   "Talks are underway for a third launch of the rocket," Ahn said, citing a clause in the original rocket-building agreement that calls for provisions for a third launch if the first two rockets fail to place a satellite into orbit.

   The rocket launch at the Naro Space Center, 465 kilometers south of Seoul, was the country's second from its own soil. The first Naro-1 rocket blasted off on Aug. 25, 2009 and reached orbit, but due to a malfunction in the fairing assembly, failed to place a satellite into orbit.

   The second-stage rocket, including the fairing assembly, was made in South Korea along with the satellite.