South Korea conducted its first successful satellite launch using a domestically developed rocket on Tuesday, officials said, boosting its growing aerospace ambitions and demonstrating it has key technologies needed to launch spy satellites and build larger missiles amid tensions with rival North Korea.
The three-stage Nuri rocket placed a functioning “performance verification” satellite at a target altitude of 700 kilometers (435 miles) after its 4 p.m. liftoff from South Korea’s space launch center on a southern island, the Science Ministry said.
The satellite transmitted signals about its status to an unmanned South Korean station in Antarctica. It is carrying four smaller satellites that will be released in coming days for Earth observation and other missions, ministry officials said.
“The science and technology of the Republic of Korea have made a great advance,” Science Minister Lee Jong-Ho said in a televised news conference at the launch center. “The government will continue its audacious march toward becoming a space power together with the people…”