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Korea plans fourth Nuri rocket launch for 2025

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The Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-II), or Nuri, takes off from the launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Jeolla, on May 25. [YONHAP]
The Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-II), or Nuri, takes off from the launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung County, South Jeolla, on May 25. [YONHAP]

Korea is gearing up for the fourth launch of its homegrown space rocket Nuri in the second half of 2025, this time with an aim of sending next-generation mid-sized satellites into space following the successful third launch in May.

A meeting between related institutions and companies including the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Ministry of Science and ICT and Hanwha Aerospace, was held on Oct. 6 to discuss preparations for the fourth launch, according to KARI on Friday.

The manufacturing of parts for Nuri’s flight model started in May. The assembly of the first, second and third stages of the rocket will start in the second half of next year.

The purpose of this particular launch is to stabilize the Nuri rocket’s performance and improve the reliability of its mission completing capabilities.

In addition to updates on the program, Dr. Park Jong-chan, senior researcher at KARI and an expert on launch vehicles with experience doing research and development on the Naro and Nuri rocket system tests, was appointed as head of project.

The Nuri rocket took off for its third launch this year on May 25, with the mission to launch a carrier rocket into the targeted altitude with payloads on board carried out successfully. Six out of Nuri’s eight satellites, including the Next-Generation Small Satellite 2, entered their target orbits and are sending signals, while two small-sized cube satellites remain uncommunicative as of now.

North Korea launched a space launch vehicle carrying a military reconnaissance satellite six days later on May 31, setting off air raid alarms across Seoul. An unsuccessful attempt, the failed launch was analyzed in a National Intelligence Service brief as the result of “an excessive trajectory adjustment,” with launch preparations rushed to match the South’s success.

A total of three launches, including the fourth launch in 2025, are scheduled until 2027 under the launch vehicle advancement program, with five microsatellites each slated to launch in 2026 and 2027. Moreover, the government aims to develop a two-stage launch vehicle, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-III, with a budget of 2.132 trillion won ($1.57 billion). The next-generation launch vehicle development program will run through 2032, with the aim of bringing a lunar lander into space.

BY CHOI SEO-IN, KIM JU-YEON [kim.juyeon2@joongang.co.kr]