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(2nd LD) (Naro) Rehearsal shows S. Korea's space rocket ready for launch
By Byun Duk-kun
NARO SPACE CENTER, South Korea, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- A final launch simulation of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) Tuesday confirmed the rocket is ready for its scheduled launch this week, launch organizers said.

   The final rehearsal came one day before the space rocket, also known as Naro, is set to blast off from the country's Naro Space Center, located some 480 kilometers south of Seoul.

   "The outcome of the rehearsal was reported to the Korea-Russia Flight Test Committee, held from about 7 p.m. today, and the committee confirmed after reviewing the outcome that the scheduled launch of Naro the next day is technically possible," the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said in a released statement.

   The test committee includes Russian engineers as the first-stage of the two-stage rocket was built by Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.

   The test committee's decision, along with the outcome of the launch rehearsal, was then reported to the country's Launch Preparation Committee, it added.

   The KSLV-1 is tentatively scheduled to take off at 4 p.m. Wednesday, but the exact time of its launch will be decided by the Launch Preparation Committee following a final systems check that will begin early in the morning.

   Wednesday's launch will be South Korea's third attempt to send a satellite into space from its own soil. The two earlier launches of the KSLV-1 in 2009 and 2010 ended in failure. Naro's third launch was originally set to take place on Oct. 26, and again on Nov. 29, but was delayed both times due to technical problems.

   Regardless of the success or failure of Wednesday's launch, it will mark the last launch under the Naro space program that began in 2002 jointly with Russia due to South Korea's lack of related technologies.

   However, Seoul is already moving to develop an indigenous 75-ton thrust engine, which will be used in a group of four to create a 300-ton thrust engine that is scheduled to be launched in 2021.

   Weather conditions are another factor that need to be taken into consideration when setting an actual launch date. Current weather forecasts predict partly cloudy skies around the Naro Space Center on Wednesday, but KARI officials said they should not be a major problem.

   The country has at least until Feb. 8 to try and send the KSLV-1 into space before it has to receive permission with international aviation bodies for new candidate dates.

   A successful launch of the Naro would make South Korea the world's 13th nation to have ever sent off a space rocket from its own soil. The country has so far sent around 10 satellites into space, but all were launched from foreign soil and used foreign space rockets.