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KAIST launches research science rocket Woorisae-2

Posted October. 29, 2018 07:38,   

Updated October. 29, 2018 07:38


A small and nimble rocket with the length of 2.2 meters and the diameter of 0.2 meters soared into the sky at 10:43 a.m. Sunday in Saemangeum, Jeonbuk province (photo). The rocket belched fire for around seven seconds and rose to 900 meters high with the engine turned off before releasing a parachute and coming down to the coastal waters of Saemangeum. It was Woorisae-2, the science rocket (sounding rocket) developed by KAIST.

The rocket was co-developed by the Department of Aerospace Engineering led by Professor Kwon Se-jin and the Satellite Technology Research Lab at KAIST that worked on this project since 2014. It is the fourth rocket after KSR-1, 2 and 3 developed and launched by the Korea Aerospace Research Institution, and the first civilian rocket that has ever been developed. Science rockets are launched for research and education to develop propellers, carry out zero gravity experiences or measure air quality.

The research team finished preparation after setting up Woorisae-2 at 8:15 a.m. and injecting hydrogen peroxide and nitrogen gas for pressurization in turn. It was planned to be launched at 10 a.m. but the launch was delayed due to sudden rain and wind. There was a gas leakage at 10:10, but the cause was found out to be a loose valve. The team quickly fixed the issue and successfully launched the rocket at 10:43.

The researchers had a rocky journey until today. Professor Kwon’s team tried to test launch the rocket in July last year, but the military did not approve it. They also had to file for a permission to use land from Korea Agency for Saemangeum Development and Investment as well as an approval to use airspace from Air Traffic Service of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Korea and the U.S. Airforce, which they got on Thursday. Even though the rocket was designed to fly up to three kilometers, the team had to limit the height at one kilometer by putting less fuel in the engine to keep the limit set on the approval.

Korea does not have a nurturing environment for science rockets. There are a lot of limitations in using airspace due to military confrontation between the South and North, and the government and businesses do not pay much attention. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning tried to establish a science rocket research center but it failed to pass the validity test. “There is a market for science rockets used for measurement and other tasks, but they have rarely been developed in Korea,” said researcher An Hyeong-jun at the Science and Technology Policy Institute.