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S. Korea successfully tests solid

South Korea successfully launched a solid-fuel space rocket carrying a small commercial satellite in the final round of tests for an actual launch planned for two years later, according to the Ministry of National Defense on Monday.

The test launch was conducted at around 2:00 p.m. from a barge located in waters south of Jeju Island. It was the first instance of the country integrating an operational satellite, not a dummy satellite, into the developmental phase of a solid-fuel space rocket.

Monday also marked the third test in a series, following previous tests in March and December 2022. This event serves as the conclusive trial leading up to the actual launch of a solid-fuel, four-stage space rocket planned for 2025.

"The launch is of great significance as it showcases the core achievements in the technological development of a solid-propellant launch vehicle," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement further elaborated that the launch successfully validated "a majority of the core technologies, encompassing the performance assessment of each stage's propulsion system."

The Defense Ministry underscored that the "military has taken a step closer toward acquiring space capabilities that enable the independent and swift deployment of small satellites into low Earth orbit."

The ministry said the launch has security implications for South Korea, "considering North Korea's persistent security threats including the launch of a reconnaissance satellite in violation of UN Security Council resolutions."

"The successful launch of the solid-fuel space launch vehicle holds significant importance as it will contribute to accelerating the acquisition of space-based reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, integral to the Korean-style three-axis defense system."

The case also marks the first collaborative partnership between the South Korean government and the private sector in launching a privately developed satellite utilizing state-developed launch technologies, according to the Defense Ministry.

The solid-fuel space launch vehicle, developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development, was outfitted with a small satellite manufactured by Hanwha Systems, a major defense contractor in South Korea. The launch also incorporated the ADD's orbital entry technology.

"Given the timely development of a privately produced satellite, we observe a win-win partnership between the private sector and the agency," an official from the Defense Ministry said on condition of anonymity during a closed-door briefing.

"The company can validate satellite performance in space by integrating it into a space launch vehicle. Additionally, the agency can confirm the deployment performance of the satellite for the space launch vehicle."

The small satellite, equipped with synthetic aperture radar or SAR, successfully transmitted its initial signal to a ground control center in the city of Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, at around 3:45 p.m. after achieving the targeted orbit, according to Hanwha Systems.

The satellite also successfully engaged in mutual communications with the ground control center at around 5:38 p.m., the company said.

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