SEOUL, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- South Korean scientists Thursday claimed complete success of their first-ever launch of a space rocket after its satellite made contact with a ground station.
Officials at the Satellite Technology Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, who launched the rocket Wednesday, said the new climate-data collecting satellite successfully made contact with a ground station in the central city, with the first such communication received at 3:27 a.m. Thursday, Yonhap News said.
The report said the communication marked a complete success of the Vehicle-1 space rocket, also known as Naro, which carried the Satellite-2C. The scientists were waiting to receive the satellite's communication with their ground station before pronouncing the success of the effort.
On Wednesday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, commenting on the rocket launch, said it was the first step toward opening an "era of space science" for the country.
Wednesday's rocket launch was South Korea's third attempt after the first two attempts in 2009 and 2010 failed.
South Korea now becomes the 13th nation to have sent a satellite into space from its own soil.
The country now plans to develop its own space launch vehicles with plans to develop an indigenous 10-ton thrust engine by 2016, Yonhap reported.
The South Korean launch came after North Korea's Dec. 12 long-range rocket firing to place its own satellite in space. The North's testing, however, was condemned by the United Nations as violating its existing sanctions put in place after the North conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The Dec. 12 rocket launch resulted in further tightening of the sanctions against the Communist country.
There has so far been no reaction from the North to the South's space shot.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in her media briefing said there is no basis for comparing the behavior of South Korea in space with that of North Korea.
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