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(LEAD) S. Korea likely to launch space rocket as scheduled: minister
SEOUL, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to go ahead with the scheduled launch of its space rocket this week, at least for now, though weather conditions and other factors may prompt last-minute changes, the science minister said Monday.

   "We have confirmed after considerations of weather conditions and preparations for the launch that the launch will be possible on Oct. 26," Minister of Education, Science and Technology Lee Ju-ho told reporters.

   The space rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), is currently scheduled to be launched Friday, but the latest weather forecasts show possible rain on the date.

   "However, even through preparations will be made for Oct. 26, the launch may be delayed if rainfall becomes imminent or very likely on the scheduled date," the minister said.

   The decision was made at the third meeting of the launch preparations committee, which convened earlier in the day to discuss a possible postponement of the launch date.

   The launch preparations committee had designated Oct. 26 through Oct. 31 as possible launch dates with Oct. 26 named the provisional launch date for what it called "reasons of convenience."

   The launch will be South Korea's third attempt to send a rocket into space after attempts in August 2009 and June 2010 ended in failure.

   The rocket, also known as Naro-1, is the country's first locally assembled space rocket with its first-stage thruster built by Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, and the rest of the rocket and its payload satellite built by a South Korean team led by the Korea Aerospace Research institute (KARI).

   The KARI says the launch of the space vehicle could be put off up to even one second before the scheduled launch if all conditions are not optimal.

   bdk@yna.co.kr
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