South Korea Strikes Back, Launches Rocket
Officials say satellite is in orbit, a first for country
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2013 6:50 AM CST
In this photo released by Korea Aerospace Research Institute, South Korea's rocket blasts off from its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea, Jan. 30, 2013.   (AP Photo/Korea Aerospace ReseJan. 30, 2013. South Korea says it has successfully launched a satellite into orbit from itarch Institute)
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(Newser) – In the wake of North Korea's successful rocket launch, South Korea has a success of its own. Officials say that a rocket that blasted off at 4pm local time today from Goheung did indeed put a satellite into orbit, reports the Los Angeles Times. They'll know by tomorrow whether it's operating correctly, the AP reports. South Korea has satellites in orbit that were launched from other countries, but 2009 and 2010 attempts to put satellites in space from its own soil failed, and more recent attempts were aborted.

Seoul has been focusing on its space program for years, and had been in danger of falling behind North Korea in the space race. The satellite launched today is meant to analyze weather data and be used for other scientific purposes, but one South Korean rocket science professor points out that—just like in North Korea—the country's long-range rockets could have military uses as well. Russian experts designed and built the first stage of this rocket, but South Korea's chief space official says the country should be able to produce a similar rocket entirely on its own by 2018. Pyongyang's rocket, meanwhile, was mostly homemade.