S. Korea launches first homegrown space rocket

© Kyodo News

South Korea's first domestically developed space rocket lifted off on Thursday, putting the country on the path to becoming one of a small number of countries with a satellite-launching capability.

The 200-ton liquid fuel rocket Nuri was launched from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, a county on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, carrying a 1.5-ton dummy satellite.

The payload is expected to be separated about 16 minutes after launch at an altitude of about 700 kilometers.

If successful, South Korea will become the seventh country in the world with the ability to put a satellite weighing 1 ton or heavier into orbit.

The launch comes at a time when North Korea has been conducting a series of missile tests, alarming South Korea, Japan and others.

South Korea plans to launch a homegrown solid-fuel space rocket in 2024.