South Korea delays space rocket launch

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South Korea Wednesday postponed a rocket launch designed to put a satellite into space due to problems with the rocket's fire extinguisher system, officials said.

The science and technology ministry said the process was suspended less than three hours before blast-off after engineers discovered a leak in one of three extinguisher nozzles.

The leak was not directly related to the Naro-1 rocket. But the launch, originally set for 5 pm at the Naro Space Center off the south coast, was called off, ministry spokesman Pyun Kyung-Bum told AFP.

"There will be no blast-off today. A new date will be set when engineers complete their work to determine why the system was not working properly," Pyun said.

South Korea is trying to join an exclusive club currently numbering nine nations that have put a satellite into orbit using a domestically assembled rocket.

Its first attempt failed last August when fairings on the nose cone of the Naro-1 failed to open properly so that the satellite could be released into orbit.

South Korea has spent more than 500 billion won (400 million dollars) on the 140-ton Naro-1.

The main first stage of the liquid-fuel rocket was made in Russia, while the second stage of the rocket was built domestically, as was the satellite.

© 2010 AFP

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