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Seoul: South Korea has launched its first homegrown rocket, stepping up the country's ambitions in space. The Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II, known as Nuri, took off from Goheung, about 500km south of Seoul.

President Moon Jae-in said the vehicle completed its full flight sequence but failed in its goal of putting a dummy satellite in orbit. Such launches are essential for a space programme but could potentially also have military applications.

South Korea is locked in an arms race with North Korea, with both recently test-firing new weapons. The North put a satellite in orbit in 2012.

Nuri cost South Korea an estimated 2 trillion won $1.6 billion to develop. Weighing 200 tonnes and measuring 47.2 metres long, it is fitted with six liquid-fuelled engines.

South Korea plans to carry out four more launches of the Nuri until 2027 to increase reliability, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) that is overseeing the launch.

Previous attempts by Seoul to launch a rocket in 2009 and 2010 failed, with the second exploding minutes after take-off. South Korea is aiming to send a probe to the moon by 2030.



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