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25 Aug, 2009 13:31

South Korea launches first rocket into space

South Korea has launched its first space rocket. The satellite onboard the rocket successfully separated from the carrier, but failed to reach the intended orbit. The launch followed an aborted attempt last week.

South Korean and Russian scientists have been looking into the problem, Science Minister Ahn Byong-man told reporters. It was not immediately clear whether the problem jeopardized the success of the launch, he said. The South Korean rocket's first stage, which was developed in Russia, successfully accomplished its task during the launch, Alexander Bobrenev, spokesman for Russia's Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center said. The South Korean Science ministry called the launch a “partial success.”

The news comes just months after South Korea’s northern neighbor was condemned for firing a similar rocket in April, in what was thought to be a missile test.

North Korea hasn’t commented on the news so far.

The launch won’t severely affect the relations between the two Koreas, but will give them the sense of double standards in the international community, says Pavel Leshakov, director of the Centre for Korean Studies at Moscow State University. Speaking about Russia’s relations with North Korea, he claims they might worsen.

“We strongly condemned the test launch of North Korean rockets in April, but we gave technology to the South for almost the same launch,” explained Leshakov.