South Korea's first space rocket blasted off successfully today, six days after a last-minute software glitch had halted a previous launch. Television pictures showed the first stage of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 separating from the second stage, less than five minutes after the rocket was launched at 5pm local time. The engines of the second stage were seen igniting and a satellite was successfully placed in orbit. "The rocket was successfully launched. I congratulate our people," the prime minister Han Seung-Soo said on TV.
The project to put a South Korean satellite into orbit, operated in partnership with Russia, had been delayed seven times in recent years. Last week a software problem halted the countdown with just eight minutes to go. If the launch is confirmed to have gone according to plan, South Korea will become the world's 10th country to send a home-grown satellite into orbit from its own soil. * AFP