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(LEAD) S. Korea's new satellite makes contact with ground station
DAEJEON, South Korea, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new science satellite successfully made contact with a ground station here Thursday, marking a complete success in the country's launch of its first-ever space rocket on the previous day, officials said.

   The first communication contact was made at 3:27:12 a.m., according to officials from the country's Satellite Technology Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.

   The contact came after the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), carrying the 100-kilogram Science and Technology Satellite-2C, blasted off from the country's Naro Space Center at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The space center is 480 kilometers south of Seoul in Goheung, South Jeolla Province.

   Wednesday's launch of the KSLV-1, also known as Naro, was initially determined successful after the satellite transmitted its beacon signal to a ground station in Norway, some 90 minutes after liftoff.

   "At 4 p.m. today, the Naro was successfully launched. The satellite was deployed 540 seconds after the launch and an analysis of related data shows the satellite has successfully entered its target orbit," Science Minister Lee Ju-ho told a press conference earlier.

   The successful launch of the space rocket and deployment of the satellite into its proper orbit makes South Korea the 13th nation to have successfully sent a satellite into space from its own soil. It was the country's third attempt to send the KSLV-1 into space; attempts in 2009 and 2010 ended in failure.

   The country has so far sent 10 satellites into space, but all were launched from foreign soil, using foreign rockets.

   The new satellite, developed indigenously by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, orbits the Earth every 103 minutes or about 14 times a day.

   However, it has a short operational lifespan of about one year as it was partly designed to test the country's ability to send a satellite into space.

   The KSLV-1 was partly built by Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, but with its successful launch, Seoul plans to develop an indigenous space launch vehicle.

   The country earlier had plans to develop its own space rocket with a 300-ton thrust by 2021. The science minister, however, said on Wednesday that the development program could be completed much earlier, in 2018 or 2019 with government support.

   bdk@yna.co.kr
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