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South Korea's homegrown Nuri rocket launches satellites into orbit for 1st time

South Korea's Nuri rocket launches on its first-ever successful satellite-deploying mission, on June 21, 2022.
South Korea's Nuri rocket launches on June 21, 2022. The liftoff was the second for the homegrown Nuri and the first to successfully deploy satellites into orbit. (Image credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI))

A fully homegrown South Korean rocket has put satellites into orbit for the first time ever.

The nation's new Nuri rocket lifted off from Naro Space Center on Tuesday (June 21) at 3 a.m. EDT (0700 GMT), eventually deploying six payloads into Earth orbit, Reuters reported (opens in new tab).

One of those payloads was a 358-pound (162.5 kilograms) test satellite that successfully made contact with a base station in Antarctica after reaching orbit, according to Reuters. The others were a 1.3-ton dummy satellite and four tiny  cubesats developed by university researchers.

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

Tuesday's liftoff was the second orbital mission for the three-stage, 155-foot-tall (47.2 meters) Nuri. The first, in October 2021, failed to place a dummy payload into orbit as planned after the rocket's third stage shut down prematurely.

So Tuesday's success was a very big deal for South Korea, which wants to launch its own constellation of navigation satellites and send probes to the moon, among other space goals.

"Now the road to space from our land has been opened," South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said shortly after Tuesday's launch, according to Reuters. "It was the product of 30 years of daunting challenges. From now on, the dreams and hopes of our people and our youth will extend into space."

South Korea has launched a satellite to orbit once before, in 2013 with a rocket called Naro. But Naro was a joint project with Russia, whereas Nuri is a fully homegrown vehicle, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, as Reuters noted.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) 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.