South Korea launched its first national Nuri rocket in an attempt to join the race for space exploration.
Also known as the Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II, it took off from Goheung, located 500 km (310 miles) south of Seoul. He put a fictional 1.5-ton satellite into orbit.
South Korea is the seventh country to have successfully sent a rocket into space.
But it also comes as an arms race erupts between North and South Korea. Both have recently tested new weapons.
The development of Nuri cost South Korea about 2 trillion won (1.23 billion pounds or 1.6 billion dollars). With a weight of 200 tons and a length of 47.2 meters, it is equipped with six liquid fuel engines.
Its launch on Thursday afternoon was slightly delayed due to strong winds.
South Korea plans to carry out four more Nuri launches through 2027 to increase reliability, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) which is overseeing the launch.
While South Korea is seen as a technological powerhouse, it has lagged behind other countries in its development for space exploration.
Seoul’s previous attempts to launch one rocket in 2009 and 2010 failed, with the second one exploding minutes after takeoff.
While South Korea says it intends to use Nuri to launch satellites, the test was also seen as part of the country’s ongoing acceleration in weapons development. Ballistic missiles and space rockets use similar technology.
South Korea recently tested a missile launched from a submarine. This week it will also host what is said to be its largest defense exhibit ever, where it will reportedly unveil a new fighter jet and guided weapons such as missiles.
Meanwhile, North Korea has carried out a barrage of weapons tests. In recent weeks, it has launched what were rumored to be hypersonic, long-range weapons.
Earlier this week, North Korea launched its own submarine missile into the Sea of Japan.
Some of these Pyongyang tests violate international sanctions, as the UN bans them from testing ballistic and nuclear weapons.
North Korea also recently held its defense fair where it displayed its military hardware, including tanks and missiles.
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