South Korea launched the first rocket from its own territoryÂ on Tuesday, putting a satellite into orbit one week after its initial attempt was scrubbed at the last minute because of a technical malfunction.
The nationally televised launching came four months after a North Korea launching that was widely denounced by the international community. United States aerospace and military officials said they believed the North was actually testing long-range ballistic missile technology under the guise of launching a satellite.
North Korea has said it will â€œclosely watchâ€ whether the Southâ€™s Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1, or Naro-1, will attract similarly strong recriminations from Washington and its allies. The North insists that its rocket was part of a peaceful satellite program, and it lashed out at theÂ United Nations sanctions that followed the launching in April and a nuclear test in May.
The Naro-1, measuring 33 meters, or 108 feet, was built jointly with the Khrunichev space production center in Russia at a cost of $400 million. It blasted off around 5 p.m. from the Naro Space Center, located in Goheung, a county in southern South Korea. Officials cheered and clapped when the command center announced that the rocket was aloft.
There was no immediate reaction from North Korea.
South Korea says that unlike North Korea it has been pursuing its space program transparently, within the boundaries of its international commitments not to develop and export long-range missile technologies.