(LEAD) Unexpected launch pad glitch discovered while preparing for space rocket launch

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SEOUL, June 15 (Yonhap) — Preparations for the launch of South Korea’s Nuri space rocket were delayed Wednesday from the Naro Space Center due to a technical problem with the launch pad, according to the Korea Institute of aerospace research (KARI).

Nuri, also known as KSLV-II, was transported from the assembly building to the launch pad at the public space center operated by KARI in Goheung, a southern coastal village about 470 kilometers south of Seoul, before the launch scheduled for Thursday.

KARI officials, however, later suspended launch preparations after discovering an unexpected issue with the launch pad. The institute also canceled a press briefing in the afternoon.

The launch schedule could be delayed again if the issue is not resolved within the day. The launch was originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday but was delayed by a day due to high winds.

On its first attempt in October, Nuri successfully flew to a target altitude of 700 kilometers but failed to put a dummy satellite into orbit because its third-stage engine burned out earlier than expected.

This time, Nuri will be tasked with a 162.5 kilogram performance verification satellite to test the rocket’s capabilities and four cube satellites developed by four universities for academic research purposes, as well as a dummy satellite from 1.3 tons.

South Korea has invested nearly 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) in the construction of Nuri since 2010. The project was carried out with domestic manufacturing technology on its own soil, including design, production, testing and launch operation.

The country plans to conduct four more Nuri rocket launches by 2027 as part of efforts to advance the country’s space rocket program.

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