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Malfunction forces S. Korea to abort first rocket launch

At a train station in Seoul, South Koreans watch a TV report about the aborted launch of their country’s first space rocket Wednesday. 

Associated Press

At a train station in Seoul, South Koreans watch a TV report about the aborted launch of their country’s first space rocket Wednesday. 

SEOUL, South Korea — A technical glitch forced South Korea to abort liftoff of its first rocket into space Wednesday, delaying a launch that threatened to stoke tensions with North Korea.

South Korea's launch was called off less than eight minutes before the scheduled liftoff, senior Science Ministry official Lee Sang Mok said. The two-stage rocket, built with Russian help, would have been South Korea's first satellite launch from its own territory.

South Korean and Russian scientists were investigating the malfunction that halted the launch, and Russian scientists believed that another attempt could occur within days, Lee said.

As South Korea geared up for its rocket launch, North Korea had warned that it would be "watching closely" for the international response to Seoul's launch.

"Their reaction and attitude toward South Korea's satellite launch will once again clearly prove whether the principle of equality exists or has collapsed," a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry told North Korea's official news agency.

An April launch by the North drew condemnation from the U.N. Security Council, which said it was a violation of resolutions banning North Korea from ballistic missile-related activity. The North said the three-stage rocket was a communications satellite; the United States, Japan and others called it a disguised test of long-range missile technology.

• New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson met with North Korean diplomats Wednesday in Santa Fe. "The delegation indicated that North Korea is ready for a new dialogue with the United States regarding the nuclear issue," Richardson said in a statement.

Malfunction forces S. Korea to abort first rocket launch 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:01pm]

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