SEOUL, June 16 (Xinhua) -- South Korea will pursue a third launch of a space rocket after the South Korean-Russian joint investigation committee finds out what caused the failure of last week's liftoff, the government said on Wednesday.
South Korea's locally assembled two-stage satellite-carrier Naro-1, or the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), was lifted off from the Naro Space Center in South Jeolla Province, about 485 kilometers south of Seoul, at 5:01 p.m. local time (0801 GMT) last Thursday. But communications with it was lost 137 seconds after the takeoff, and crashed after reaching altitude of 70 km.
Seoul's Education, Science and Technology Ministry told reporters that according to a contract signed in 2004 between Korea Aerospace Research Institute and Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, Seoul has the right to request Moscow for a third attempt if either of the two previous launches ends in failure.
There is a clause in the agreement that allows South Korea to withhold some 10 million U.S. dollars, or 5 percent of the original 200 million dollars for the Naro-1 project to Russia if a third attempt is not made, so there is every possibility that an understanding on a third launch can be reached, the ministry said.
The ministry said the timing of the third launch will be decided after the 26-person joint Failure Review Board (FRB) determines the cause of last week's failure.
The experts of FRB held its first meeting on Monday to share their respective analysis on the rocket's telecommunication before it exploded,
It will hold its second meeting in Moscow next month, during which experts can further exchange their views on investigation, while a third meeting may be held in South Korea around August, the ministry said.
The Naro-1 was designed in South Korea with Russian help. The Russians built the first stage of the two-stage rocket, and South Korea built the smaller second-stage rocket and the satellite.
After last week's failure, debate on the liability issue arose between the two countries. Seoul suspect that the first stage of the rocket, which was manufactured by the Russian side, played a role in the explosion, as the Naro-1 was still being propelled by the first stage when it blasted.
However, Moscow is of the opinion that the blast was caused by a fault in the South Korean-made control system.
Thursday's explosion marks the second failure to launch the Naro-1, after the first attempt, carried out on Aug. 25 last year, went into failure due to a malfunction in the fairing assembly that made it impossible to place the 100 kilogram satellite into orbit.
The South Korean government has spent 502.5 billion won (407 million U.S. dollars) since 2002 to build the rocket and learn related technologies with Russian assistance and technical supervision.