SEOUL Oct 26 South Korea called off the launch
of a space rocket on Friday after a glitch in the Russian-built
booster halted preparations five hours before the scheduled
It was South Korea's third attempt to put a satellite into
orbit and comes after North Korea succeeded in launching a
rocket in April that it said was carrying a satellite, only to
abort the mission early in its flight.
Friday's failure also puts South Korea far behind economic
rivals China, India and Japan.
South Korean officials at the Korea Aerospace Research
Institute (KARI) that is conducting the launch said Russian
engineers had found a leak in the sealing while injecting helium
gas into the first-stage booster.
The rocket will be taken off its launch pad and moved to a
hangar to repair the faulty seal, which will require at least
three days, the officials said.
"If the problem is serious, we may not be able to launch in
the current window," KARI President Kim Seung-jo said. South
Korea has set a launch window of Oct. 26 to 31. The officials
indicated a new window may have to be set.
South Korea's second launch attempt in 2010 ended 137
seconds into flight when the rocket exploded before sending its
payload into orbit. The first attempt in 2009 also failed when
the rocket failed to release the payload.
South Korea's launch attempts have riled North Korea, which
had been hit with U.N. sanctions for its rocket tests, which the
reclusive state says are aimed at putting a satellite into
orbit, but which critics say are tests for a ballistic missile
programme aimed at delivering a nuclear payload.
North and South Korea remain technically at war after an
armistice rather than a peace treaty ended the 1950-53 Korean
(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel)