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(LEAD) S. Korea starts preparations to launch 3rd space rocket
SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has restarted preparations to launch a third Naro-1 space rocket after failing to place a satellite in orbit on two previous attempts, the government said Thursday.

   The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said a 15-person review committee chaired by Lee Joon-sik, an mechanical engineering professor at Seoul National University, has been convened.

   It said scientists and engineering experts in the committee will check all pertinent data related to the future launch that includes examining test results, the assembly process and launch program management.

   "The committee will be briefed on all of the latest developments connected to the rocket problem from the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute," an official said.

   Based on the report and their independent reviews, the committee will establish a comprehensive plan for the next Naro-1 launch in consultation with the government.

   The two-stage rocket weighs 140 tons and measures 33 meters in length, and the first stage was made in Russia. The second stage and the scientific satellite were made within South Korea.

   The Naro-1 is South Korea's first indigenously assembled rocket, built with extensive cooperation with Russia. The country launched the first Naro-1 rocket, or the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, in August 2009 but a problem with the locally built fairing assembly made it impossible to place the rocket in proper orbit. The second launch, carried out in June, exploded during its ascent.

   The definitive cause of the second failed launch has not been determined, but Seoul and Moscow have agreed to push for a third attempt as outlined in a bilateral agreement.

   Seoul has spent 502.5 billion won (US$454.2 million) on the project since 2002 and plans to use the experience to build its own rockets in the future.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
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