SEOUL, South Korea: After a first test launch failed last year, this week officials said South Korea's second test launch of its domestically produced Nuri rocket successfully placed several satellites into orbit, a major step in advancing its space program.
Officials said that the rocket took off from the Naro Space Center with a 358 lb. satellite.
A 1.3-ton dummy satellite and four small cube satellites developed by universities for research were also successfully launched into orbit by the rocket.
"The sky of the Korean universe is now wide open. Our science and technology has made great strides," noted Science and ICT Minister Lee Jong-ho.
Designed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the three-stage KSLV-II Nuri rocket is a cornerstone of the country's ambitious goals for 6G networks, spy satellites and lunar probes.
In a statement by his office, while being briefed by Lee and others about the success, President Yoon Suk-yeol watched the launch and thanked those involved, vowing to keep an election pledge to create a new space affairs agency.
"Now the road to space from our land has been opened. 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," Yoon said.
In Nuri's first test in October, the rocket completed its flight sequences, but failed to place the test payload into orbit after its third-stage engine shut down earlier than planned.
KARI has scheduled at least four more launches by 2027.
South Korea and the U.S. are also working on a lunar orbiter, aimed at landing a probe on the moon by 2030.
The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said on Twitter that it is looking forward to further space cooperation with South Korea following this week's successful launch.
Space launches are a sensitive issue on the Korean peninsula, as North Korea has faced sanctions over its nuclear-armed ballistic missile program.