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(LEAD) Seoul to launch Naro space rocket between Jan. 30-Feb. 8
SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will launch its Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) between Jan. 30 and Feb. 8, a government committee said Wednesday.

   It will be the country's third attempt to send off the space rocket, also known as Naro, after its two earlier attempts in 2009 and 2010 ended in failures.

   "After reviewing technical issues, the Launch Preparation Committee has decided to push for the third launch of Naro between Jan. 30 and Feb. 8 with the final launch date to be decided later, depending on weather conditions and other issues," it said in a released statement.

   The third launch of the KSLV-1 was originally set to take place on Oct. 26 but was delayed due to a damaged rubber seal in the connector between the rocket and the launch pad.

   The rocket was then set to lift off on Nov. 11, but the launch was again postponed, this time with only minutes left on the launch countdown clock, due to what South Korean engineers earlier called "unusual signals" from the rocket's thrust system.

   The launch committee on Wednesday said the latest problem with the rocket's thrust vector system was caused by a defective hydraulic motor, which has since been replaced.

   Currently lacking related technology, South Korea relied on Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center to build the lower section or first-stage of the two KSLV-1 launched in 2009 and 2010, as well as the latest version set to be launched late this month or early next month.

   Still, a successful launch of the Naro space rocket will make South Korea the world's only 13th nation to have sent off a space rocket from its own soil.

   The ongoing Naro space program ends later this year, but a new program to develop the country's space launch vehicle is already under way.

   Under the new program, South Korea seeks to develop an indigenous 75-ton thrust engine by 2018 and a 300-ton space rocket for launch in 2021.

   bdk@yna.co.kr
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