Nuriho’s re-challenge, one month from now… “No failures from last year”

On the 10th of this month, at the Naro Space Center Naro Space Center, Goheung-gun, Jeollanam-do, officials from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and its partners are preparing to assemble the first-stage and second-stage engines of the Korean launch vehicle ‘Nuriho’. Provided by Korea Aerospace Research Institute
On the 10th, Naro Space Center’s launch vehicle assembly building, Oenarodo, Goheung-gun, Jeollanam-do. Ahead of the second test launch, which was about a month away, the first and second stage rockets of the Korean launch vehicle ‘Nuriho’ were lying down ahead of the combined operation. The first stage of the Nuriho, which is composed of a total of three stages, is 23.1m long and the second stage is 18.5m long. After the final inspection of each stage and the installation of a pyrolock (a device that explodes gunpowder) that separates each stage of the rocket during launch, two weeks later, when the three stages carrying the performance verification satellite are combined, all preparations are completed until the final launch.
Jang Young-soon, head of the launch vehicle system development department at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, explains the launch vehicle. Provided by Korea Aerospace Research Institute
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KAERI) made the last public appearance of the Nuri, which is about to launch its second launch on the 15th of next month. Jang Young-soon, head of the launch vehicle system development department of the Korea Air Defense Association, said, “The preparations for the re-challenge of the Nuri ship, which failed in the first launch on October 21 last year, failed to enter the target orbit, have entered the final stage.”

○ Due to independent development, the launch period was delayed by one month

Nuri is a space launch vehicle developed to secure the ability to put a 1.5t weight practical satellite into low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 600 to 800 km. It consists of a first-stage rocket that generates 300 tons of thrust by combining four 75-ton liquid engines secured with proprietary technology, a second-stage rocket consisting of one 75-ton liquid engine, and a third stage containing one 7-ton liquid engine. In the first launch in October of last year, the three-stage engine was turned off earlier than planned, so it failed to put the model satellite in at a speed of 7.5 km/s in the target orbit of 700 km. During the design process, the engine was shut down earlier than expected when the fastener of the helium tank contained in the oxidizer tank of the three-stage engine was accidentally loosened during the design process. It took five months to analyze the cause of the failure and come up with a solution. At the time of the failure of the first launch, there was a forecast that the second launch would be delayed for more than half a year, but unexpectedly, the launch was delayed by only one month. Koh Jung-hwan, head of the Korean launch vehicle development division at the Korea Air Defense Agency, said, “When the first launch of the Naro failed in 2009, it took time to figure out the cause because its partner Russia raised a security problem. “It took a lot less time to figure out the problem and find a solution,” he said.

Part of the second projectile of the Nuri-ho, which was assembled last month, was also completed and supplemented. “We judged that the performance of the first and second engine engines that operated normally during the first launch were sufficiently verified,” said Koh.

According to the Korea Air Association, the performance verification satellite to be mounted on the 3rd stage of the Nuri will arrive at the assembly building on the 16th of this month, and when the 1st and 2nd stages are assembled and combined with the 3rd stage, all preparations for launch are expected to be finished by the 12th of next month. On the 14th of the following month, one day before the launch, it is loaded onto a transport device and transferred to the launch pad located at the southernmost part of the Naro Space Center.

The launch management committee of the Ministry of Science and ICT will determine the specific launch time by considering the weather and space weather on the day.

○ The development of the Nuri-ho follow-up projectile is also within the speed

The development of the Nuri-ho successor projectile is also accelerating. On one side of the projectile assembly building visited that day, the fuselage assembly of the Nuri-ho Unit 3 was in progress. Next-generation medium-sized satellite No. 3 will be carried on Nuri No. 3, which is scheduled to be launched in January next year. It is the first time that a satellite with the same performance as a general commercial satellite is mounted on a domestic launch vehicle. As such, Unit 3 is raising expectations as a thermal launch vehicle for the era of full-fledged independent space development. The government is investing 687.4 billion won in the Korean launch vehicle upgrade project, and plans to launch four additional launch vehicles by 2027, including the Nuri 3 unit.

A plan to strengthen the competitiveness of the Nuri-ho in the commercial launch market, which is gradually moving towards low-cost competition, is also being pursued. The Ministry of Science and ICT started a preliminary feasibility study on the next-generation launch vehicle development project, which spent 1.933 trillion won last month to develop a two-stage space launch vehicle that is more powerful than the Nuri-ho.

The next-generation projectile is a two-stage projectile that uses liquid oxygen and kerosene (kerosene) fuel. If development proceeds smoothly, we will embark on the first mission of sending a lunar lander to our launch vehicle in 2031. It also aimed to secure re-ignition and thrust control technology for reusable rockets developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin. Considering that the preliminary feasibility study usually takes about 7 months, the results are expected to be released at the end of November this year.

Goheung = Reporter Koh Jae-won, Donga Science [email protected]

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