South Korea’s internally advanced KSLV-2 “Nuri” rocket has successfully launched six payloads into low-Earth orbit, after launching from the Naro Space Center at 4 p.m. KST. This follows an earlier attempt in October that failed to reach orbit after the booster’s third-stage engine stopped prematurely. The flight follows an initial orbit over the East China Sea, after which the upper layer moves toward the Philippine Sea, eventually sending the payload into the desired orbit of 98 degrees. Less than ideal this path wastes energy, but ensures that the first and second steps fall into the sea and not over humans. Success was confirmed shortly after the launch as the car passed over King Sejong Station in South Korea, Antarctica.
The payload on this test flight was initially a simulator weighing 1.3 metric tons, but included a small Performance Verification Satellite (PVSAT), totaling 1.5 metric tons. PVSAT itself monitors vehicle performance, but also serves as a carrier for four cubesat. These have been developed by engineering teams at various local universities and will be deployed in the coming days
If you are interested in tracking these, the launch has been assigned COSPAR ID 2022-065 and the first three objects (third stage, dummy mass and PVSAT) have been assigned NORAD catalog numbers 52894, 52895 and 52896. It’s too much to say in advance which one is right now, but if more information about their respective orbits is collected, it will be possible to tell them separately. The next four catalog numbers, 52897 – 52900, are reserved for Cubsat once they are published.
With this launch, South Korea became the 10th country to launch a payload into space using its own domestic technology, and the 7th to launch more than a ton of payloads into orbit – the United States, Russia, Japan, China, France and India.