Nov. 28 (UPI) -- South Korea successfully test-launched the first stage of its orbital rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-II, or KSLV-II, at about 4 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Seoul's space agency.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute said the launch, which included a science satellite, was a successful test of the vehicle's 75-ton liquid propulsion engine, which will be used on KSLV's first and second stages.
The first stage will run on four boosters hosting these engines, while the second stage will use one. A 7-ton engine that has yet to be tested will propel the third stage, SpaceTech Asia reported.
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the test places South Korea in the league of 10 countries that have secured technology for launch vehicle engines, which currently includes the United States, Russia, Japan, India, China, Israel and North Korea.
The test comes after a 10-month delay. The space agency said difficulties with the fuel and combustion instability plagued the project -- a domestically developed engine.
The KSLV-II has been completely built domestically with a budget of more than $1.7 billion.
South Korea's space agency wants to make the rocket operational by 2021 to launch a lunar probe in the first phase of the Korean Lunar Exploration Program.
South Korea's first orbital projectile, the KSLV-I, launched successfully in January 2013, but used a Russian engine.
The KSLV-II, also known as the "Nuri-ho," is expected to undergo more tests.
Donga Science reported Wednesday South Korean analysts said the test flight was smooth and marks a turning point for South Korea's space policy.
South Korean officials said the rocket tested Wednesday would likely hit the ocean between the southern island of Jeju and Okinawa, Japan, according to reports.