South Korea pulled the plug on its latest space rocket launch just hours before take-off after the discovery of technical issues.
Seoul has ambitions to be a key player in space technology, competing with its Asian neighbours, but this represents a setback for its homegrown programme.
The technical glitches are most likely communication errors between computers that control a helium relief valve, officials said. The vehicle itself did not show any problems, so it will remain on the launch pad for a rescheduled test, they added.
South Korea’s deputy science minister, Oh Tae-seok, told a briefing that a meeting on Thursday would decide when another launch could take place, perhaps as early as Thursday afternoon.
In June 2022, the country successfully launched its domestically produced Nuri rocket and placed working and dummy satellites into orbit in its second test.
The third test would be the first to load and launch a commercial-grade satellite aboard the Nuri vehicle, standing on the pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, on the southwestern tip of South Korea.
The country plans to carry out three more test launches of the Nuri system by 2027.
The planned launch on Wednesday also comes amid an arms race around South and North Korea, which are technically still at war since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice.
North Korea is preparing to launch its first military spy satellite, state media has reported. South Korea has no military surveillance satellites, relying on information from its major ally the United States.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara