The third flight of South Korea’s Nuri rocket is in the books.
Nuri, the nation’s first fully homegrown launch vehicle, lifted off from Naro Space Center on South Korea’s south coast Thursday (May 25) at 5:24 a.m. EDT (0924 GMT), carrying eight small satellites skyward.
The three-stage, 155-foot-tall (47.2 meters) rocket successfully deployed all of its payloads into their designated orbits, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), South Korea’s space agency, said via Twitter on Thursday.
Related: Meet Naro: South Korea’s first rocket in photos
누리호는 발사 후 정해진 비행 시퀀스에 따라 목표 궤도에 투입되어 차세대소형위성 2호를 성공적으로 분리 및 안착시켰습니다.부탑재위성인 큐브위성 6기의 경우 정상적으로 사출이 진행된 것을 확인하였으나, 도요샛의 4기 중 1기의 경우 사출 여부 확인을 위해 시간이 좀 더 소요될 예정입니다. pic.twitter.com/xRKpHNVMl2May 25, 2023
The primary payload that went up on Thursday is NEXTSat-2, a 400-pound (180-kilogram) satellite that will demonstrate synthetic aperture radar technology, according to NASASpaceflight.com.
The other seven payloads are tiny cubesats. Four of those seven comprise the SNIPE (“Small scale magnetospheric and Ionospheric Plasma Experiment”) mission, which aims to study the plasma environment in Earth orbit.
“These satellites are equipped with Langmuir probes, fluxgate magnetometers, and high-energy particle detectors. In addition to their HF and S-band communications equipment, they have Iridium modules to communicate with the ground as a secondary data link,” NASASpaceflight.com wrote.
The four Korean-built SNIPE cubesats were originally supposed to fly on a Russian rocket, the outlet added, but were switched over to Nuri after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The other three cubesats will perform a variety of tasks in orbit, from testing a new spacecraft attitude-control system to measuring cosmic radiation to studying our planet’s weather.
Nuri flew for the first time in October 2021, on a test flight that carried a dummy payload. That debut mission didn’t go according to plan; the rocket’s third stage shut down prematurely, and Nuri failed to deploy the test payload as planned.
The rocket bounced back in June 2022, successfully carrying six satellites to orbit in a landmark success for South Korea, which wants to launch its own constellation of navigation satellites, among other off-Earth aims. (The nation’s Danuri spacecraft is currently orbiting the moon, but it launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, not a South Korean vehicle.)
South Korea had one satellite-launch success before last year’s Nuri flight, a 2013 mission with a rocket called Naro. But Naro’s first stage was built by Russia, whereas Nuri is fully homegrown, developed by KARI.