South Korea satellite 'communicating'

  • 31 January 2013
  • From the section Asia
Media captionThe BBC's Lucy Williamson says the launch will be met with relief in Seoul

South Korea says the satellite launched on Wednesday has made contact with a ground station and is sending data.

The launch was South Korea's first successful attempt to put a satellite into orbit using its own rocket.

The satellite, which collects climate data, made contact at 03:27 on Thursday (18:27 GMT on Wednesday).

The launch - which came weeks after North Korea successfully put its own satellite in orbit - had been delayed twice due to technical reasons.

President Lee Myung-bak praised what he called a "first step towards opening an era of space science in earnest".

"We should make this an opportunity to elevate national power by a notch."

The rocket, which blasted off from the Naro Space Center at 16:00 (07:00 GMT) on Wednesday, was built in partnership with Russia. Two previous launches in 2009 and 2010 had failed.

South Korea now plans to develop a fully home-made three-stage rocket.

There has been no reaction yet from North Korea, which was condemned by the UN last week for its rocket launch - seen as a banned test of missile technology.

"The North should not see it [the South Korean launch] as a threat because they too can enjoy the same transparency with regard to the programme that the rest of us have, which is a far cry from how the DPRK [North Korea] behaves," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

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