South Korea's homegrown Nuri rocket launches 8 satellites on 3rd-ever mission (photo)

White rocket rising off the launch pad with a green launch tower and gray sky in the background.
South Korea's Nuri rocket launches a handful of small satellites to orbit on May 25, 2023. (Image credit: KARI)

The third flight of South Korea's Nuri rocket is in the books.

Nuri, the nation's first fully homegrown launch vehicle, lifted off from Naro Space Center on South Korea's south coast Thursday (May 25) at 5:24 a.m. EDT (0924 GMT), carrying eight small satellites skyward.

The three-stage, 155-foot-tall (47.2 meters) rocket successfully deployed all of its payloads into their designated orbits, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), South Korea's space agency, said via Twitter on Thursday

Related: Meet Naro: South Korea's first rocket in photos

The primary payload that went up on Thursday is NEXTSat-2, a 400-pound (180-kilogram) satellite that will demonstrate synthetic aperture radar technology, according to

The other seven payloads are tiny cubesats. Four of those seven comprise the SNIPE ("Small scale magnetospheric and Ionospheric Plasma Experiment") mission, which aims to study the plasma environment in Earth orbit.

"These satellites are equipped with Langmuir probes, fluxgate magnetometers, and high-energy particle detectors. In addition to their HF and S-band communications equipment, they have Iridium modules to communicate with the ground as a secondary data link," wrote.

The four Korean-built SNIPE cubesats were originally supposed to fly on a Russian rocket, the outlet added, but were switched over to Nuri after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The other three cubesats will perform a variety of tasks in orbit, from testing a new spacecraft attitude-control system to measuring cosmic radiation to studying our planet's weather.

Nuri flew for the first time in October 2021, on a test flight that carried a dummy payload. That debut mission didn't go according to plan; the rocket's third stage shut down prematurely, and Nuri failed to deploy the test payload as planned.

The rocket bounced back in June 2022, successfully carrying six satellites to orbit in a landmark success for South Korea, which wants to launch its own constellation of navigation satellites, among other off-Earth aims. (The nation's Danuri spacecraft is currently orbiting the moon, but it launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, not a South Korean vehicle.)

South Korea had one satellite-launch success before last year's Nuri flight, a 2013 mission with a rocket called Naro. But Naro's first stage was built by Russia, whereas Nuri is fully homegrown, developed by KARI.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.