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Second Straight Rocket Failure For South Korea 143

Posted by timothy
from the rockets-to-space-a-complex-thing dept.
eldavojohn writes "South Korea suffered its second straight setback today as its Naro-1 rocket carrying a scientific satellite exploded. The rocket produced a bright flash during stage-one ignition as the ground crews lost contact with it. South Korea paired with Russia to produce the Naro-1 and was looking to both relieve its dependence on other nations to put its satellites in orbit and compete with the space programs of China, India, and Japan. Following a failure on August 25, 2009, this marks the second failed attempt for Naro Space Center to launch a Naro-1 rocket. It appears the old adage revolving around the complexities of 'rocket science' remains valid."
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Second Straight Rocket Failure For South Korea

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  • by Mathinker (909784) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:07AM (#32532222) Journal

    Progress plods on, and if they keep trying, they will eventually get it right, even if it isn't particularly easy.

    I'm not sure I'm discouraged (because this makes it look like it will take more time before humanity can easily colonize space) or encouraged (because this makes it look like it will take more time before every third-world country will be able to produce intercontinental missiles).

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I doubt it, after all they are made in Korea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Strangely, this actually seems to mean that N. Korea (I guess among the so called "third-world country better not able to produce intercontinental missiles") has quite comparable luck with launches, perhaps even slighhty better one.

      • by NewsWatcher (450241) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:50AM (#32532430)

        Yeah it would seem to be pretty amazing that North Korea, for all its spit and bile, has managed not only to create working rockets, but nukes as well, despite the world being against it.

        South Korea, despite all the world's major powers backing it, has ended up with egg on its face.

        Of course, if push really ever came to shove it doesn't really matter how many working missiles South Korea has, as long as the USA has plenty that work correctly.

        • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday June 11, 2010 @03:02AM (#32532684)

          Because the DPRK is pushing more GDP into the program and there is the threat of prison for the scientists and engineers, families, parents and grandparents.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Aquariums_of_Pyongyang [wikipedia.org]
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yodok_concentration_camp [wikipedia.org]

          No one in the RoK will be imprisoned or killed if they fail at the rocket program. Now...how successful has the DPRK ICBM/orbital program been?

          Not that successful
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwangmy [wikipedia.org]ngsng%2D2
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_North_Korean_missile_test [wikipedia.org]
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwangmy [wikipedia.org]ngsng-1

          Now, the DPRK has SCUD and FROG type missiles that can get a nuke (if their nukes are small and light enough) to the RoK, China and Japan

          The first DRPK nuclear test was most likely a failure, far less than 4 KT and the second was also small, a 1-5 KT or so

          http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE55E5BA20090615 [reuters.com]

          The danger from the DPRK is the massive amounts of conventional artillery and battlefield rockets they have, not nukes. FROGs and SCUDs can be shot down by Patriots, the US and RoK will hammer them with long range PGMs like MRLS and with airpower.

          Seoul would have to be at least nuked before the US would deploy nuclear weapons that close to Russia and China.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bjourne (1034822)

            Because the DPRK is pushing more GDP into the program and there is the threat of prison for the scientists and engineers, families, parents and grandparents.

            That is exactly the point. No one has proved that working under threats make you perform better in an intellectual pursuit, which developing ICBM:s and nukes undoubtedly are. In a too controlled environment people get afraid to take decisions, wont question orders and avoids responsibility because they get punished if they do and failure occurs. Which m

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by tophermeyer (1573841)
              Yeah but the inefficiencies that stem from terrified workers are offset by the massive amounts of resources the DPRK is dumping into these programs. The RoK has been worried about silly things like feeding their population, and pursuing ridiculous "non-military technologies".
          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            dude... you know way too much about missiles. FED wire-tap here please

          • by blinkus (1831746)

            The danger from the DPRK is the massive amounts of conventional artillery and battlefield rockets they have, not nukes. FROGs and SCUDs can be shot down by Patriots, the US and RoK will hammer them with long range PGMs like MRLS and with airpower.

            Seoul would have to be at least nuked before the US would deploy nuclear weapons that close to Russia and China.

            ... to South Korea. To South Korea, the threat of a nuclear armed DPRK is kind of redundant when the North can inflict such awesome amounts of damage conventionally. This has frustrated other nations like Japan, who are much more afraid of a nuclear North, and also far more likely targets of a nuclear attack.

        • South Korea can't lock people up for less than perfect engineering.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Huh-what? North Korea hasn't had ANY successful space rockets, and they've had their share of explosions. Also they've trying very very very hard to develop long-range military rockets -- South Korea isn't. Or even medium-range military rockets. The South has a much more minor non-military actual-space rocket program. And if you'll check the history of everyone's space programs, you'll notice that everyone has had failures.

          I'm alarmed you weren't moderated Funny. Please, just bounce around the wikipedia art

        • by srothroc (733160)
          I think it does matter; anything from North Korea or China would hit its target far before missiles from America.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Not valid argument. There is a hell of a difference in constructing a space rocket and a missile carrier. The involved forces and energies are several order of magnitudes larger and more complex to control....

        • by Kenoli (934612)
          The difference is that South Korea is trying to create rockets that don't explode.
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday June 11, 2010 @03:03AM (#32532696) Homepage Journal

      Maybe the problem is that they are getting help from the Russians. SpaceX might be a better go. Pay them for a technology transfer deal. License their processes, designs and software. SpaceX gets $$$, SK gets a working system.

      • Sorry, the Russians have an excellent space program. Our (U.S.) Atlas 5 [wikipedia.org] rocket uses Russian RD-180 [wikipedia.org] engines, in case you didn't know that. (and, frankly, in my opinion, the Atlas 5 would be a better choice than the Ares 1 for a manned launch vehicle)

        National pride is what is driving the South Koreans to develop their own space launch system and national pride will prevent them from giving the work to SpaceX. Though, I'm sure SpaceX would be happy to have the business, if South Korea wants to give it to

        • ...the Atlas 5 would be a better choice than the Ares 1 for a manned launch vehicle

          I agree. NASA didn't really even consider using the Atlas V, because of the Russian Engine. The Head of NASA at the time they decided upon using the 'booster' approach seemed to be really against using any Russian derived technologies in the rocket. This in spite of the fact they made what were arguably the best suitable engines for the first stage of a manned rocket.

          They screwed up on the capsule as well. They should
      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        What reason would SpaceX have for giving SK their rocket technology? It would be easier to just sell them the rockets.

      • by barzok (26681)

        SpaceX has had how many successful launches?

        Three. 2 for the Falcon 1, one for the Falcon 9.

        I'm not saying that they have bad designs, but the Russians have a hell of a lot more experience in putting stuff into space.

    • Falcon 9 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chrb (1083577) on Friday June 11, 2010 @03:28AM (#32532796)

      Progress plods on, and if they keep trying, they will eventually get it right, even if it isn't particularly easy.

      Maybe this will shut up all the people who said that the achievements of SpaceX and Falcon 9 were nothing... when a nation state with a GDP of $929 billion and space agency annual budget of ~$250 million fails twice to achieve the same thing.

      • I'm liking SpaceX enough to be called a "fan"; however, got to set the record straight. You may recall... that the first three SpaceX launches had issues. They were smaller Falcon 1 rockets; but, the Falcon 9 is largely a scaled up version using nearly identical engines and avionics.

        • 1st launch: exploded on pad
        • 2nd launch: fuel sloshing in upper stage tank causes loss of control
        • 3rd launch: first stage strikes second stage post-separation causing failure of 2nd stage engine
        • The Merlin vacuum engine had never been used before, and it was successful in the Falcon 9. Also, strapping 9 engines together for the first stage is more complex than using one single engine.

          You have to give them credit for the Falcon 9. Things almost never go right with your first try when you're talking about rockets. I certainly didn't expect their launch to be successful. I assume they didn't either since they didn't send anything but a dummy dragon module up with it. This rocket failure does unde

          • I think you mis-understood. I'm not being cynical. I'm happy for their success -- hell, if I could get (do get) a job working for SpaceX I'll jump at the chance. But... Parent said -- "Look at SpaceX, they got it right on the first try when Korea has failed twice" That's just wrong.

            The Falcon 9 worked on the first try, yes. That's an excellent achievement. But the system was tested, on a smaller scale, on the Falcon 1. They did this, intentionally, as part of a larger plan. They did this so they

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by anOminousCow (905486)
              It seems to me that SpaceX spent some time engineering and building a good, reliable engine in the Merlin 1C / Merlin Vacuum. Those 9 engines on the first stage are just 1 more than the 8 on the Saturn 1B, and the Saturn 1B used 8 redstone tanks cobbled together + 1 central tank, really a kludge of a rocket if you ask me.

              Initial reports have that it was the 1st stage, the Russian built stage that failed on Korea's rocket. I'm not sure i've got this right but, an aft looking camera on board showed a bri
            • by chrb (1083577)

              Parent said -- "Look at SpaceX, they got it right on the first try..."

              Er, no I didn't...

    • because this makes it look like it will take more time before every third-world country will be able to produce intercontinental missiles

      Your comment is great and I agree with most of it. But, damn, I take offence to that phrase "third-world country". What exactly do you think "third world" means?

      • Once, during the cold war, it meant non-aligned nation. Now it means the under-developed world, the have-nots. The point that you're taking offense to is that if SK can't do it, the 3rd world dictators shouldn't be able to as well.
      • by Mathinker (909784) *

        because this makes it look like it will take more time before every third-world country will be able to produce intercontinental missiles

        Your comment is great and I agree with most of it. But, damn, I take offence to that phrase "third-world country". What exactly do you think "third world" means?

        I actually did have some regrets about implying that lesser-developed countries (the so called "have nots" by another poster) are more of a threat to world peace than the developed countries. It's not at all clear that that's true. For example, eventually, if India doesn't control its population growth something over there is going to break --- and they already have working rockets/missiles. OTOH, many would consider India a third-world country considering its median standard of living.

        And China's totalitar

    • I'm not sure I'm discouraged (because this makes it look like it will take more time before humanity can easily colonize space) or encouraged (because this makes it look like it will take more time before every third-world country will be able to produce intercontinental missiles).

      I'm actually very encouraged because it would mean that they're designing their own rockets, not using the US design that the Clinton fundraisers sold to China in the 90's or whatever Russian designs have made the rounds.

      Along the

  • by Arancaytar (966377)

    Or did it get shot down? :P

    (Hell, it might even have been sabotaged by spies. It's difficult to imagine anything going wrong that close to North Korea being a coincidence. :P )

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302)

      And of course with Russian being involved, they'd have the perfect alibi.
      Whether it's military planes at airshows, submarines, preventing terrorism at schools, or trying to help assist at the sites of polish plane crashes without the soldiers going through the dead people's pockets looking for cash and credit cards, there's always some way of Russia fucking things up.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by aliquis (678370)

        Yeah, good only people from north Korea, China and Russia are bad and that everyone else in all occasions behave well. Most likely everyone from said countries are the same to.

        Good your governments communism = bad, Islam = bad, .. = bad tactics work as intended. I guess there's more power to be had for them as long as you're all in fear and need them.

    • Or did it get shot down? :P

      (Hell, it might even have been sabotaged by spies. It's difficult to imagine anything going wrong that close to North Korea being a coincidence. :P )

      Believe me, the South Koreans do take security seriously. One thing against your idea is that an agent from the north would need to be coerced against defecting to the south. Such coercion would probably expose them to surveillance.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How hard can it be?

  • I guess they're just following the Soviet era tried and tested rocket development program. Start by blowing up rockets, and continue until they stop blowing up. Then strap some pilots on top.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bezenek (958723)

      I guess they're just following the Soviet era tried and tested rocket development program. Start by blowing up rockets, and continue until they stop blowing up. Then strap some pilots on top.

      This sounds pretty much like the US space program.

      It is unfortunate people still have to learn from their mistakes when this has already been done at least twice (CCCP and the US). A person might figure they could afford to hire a couple of engineers who already went through this trial and error.

      -Todd

      • by FleaPlus (6935) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:45AM (#32532414) Journal

        It is unfortunate people still have to learn from their mistakes when this has already been done at least twice (CCCP and the US). A person might figure they could afford to hire a couple of engineers who already went through this trial and error.

        Actually, the Naro-1 [wikipedia.org] is a Korean-Russian collaboration, with a Russian-built first stage and a Korean-built second stage. It's still unclear at this point which stage (or interaction thereof) caused the problem.

        As an aside, the Russian-built first stage basically a slightly modified first stage of their under-development Angara rocket [wikipedia.org].

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naro-1 [wikipedia.org]

          Straight and Naro-1: Looks like the learning stage. BTW is that the second stage on the right.

        • Separation was not to have happened for a bit longer. Unless the upper stage collapsed, or the pumps failed, it appears to be the first stage that failed. But I do have to say, that is kind of weird. I would not expect that of Russia.
          • oops. The korean 2'nd stage is actually solid fuel (good for a missile). No pumps. Hmmm. They would have to lose their frame for a failure by SK.
          • by sznupi (719324)

            For all we know now, it might have been just as well an avionics (Korean most likely?) error; not unheard of in first launches of modern rockets...

            But anyway, with how Russian programmes are notoriously underfounded (and considering that little tidbit - still doing great), it's safe to suspect IMHO that Angara is not quite "ready" / Russians found acceptable partner to give rocket technology to in exchange for funding and opportunity to more quickly refine the new design.

      • by bezenek (958723) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:10AM (#32532486) Journal

        This sounds pretty much like the US space program.

        This is not flamebait.

        The first attempt at launching a US satellite blew up shortly after launch. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_TV3 [wikipedia.org]

        The Explorer program [wikipedia.org] which followed, started with the successful launch of Explorer 1, the first satellite placed by the United States.

        The Explorer program has launched about 100 satellites, but 8 of the first 17 failed.

        Everyone seems to forget that it took a while to make these launches consistent as we saw (mostly) with the Gemini and Apollo missions.

        -Todd

        • And IIRC, it took 13 tries before we got an Atlas to fly without going boom. There's a reason they call it rocket surgery....or brain science....or whatever, it's hard to do!
      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Angara goes back to Proton, going back to ICBMs, finally back the German V2 era.
        Best to look in a US retirement village for that Operation paper clip quality and bypass the Russian world launch service market .
        Why rent export quality when you can have German influenced consulting to realise a design thats 100% made in S Korea.
        Then S Korea can export to the world.
      • by Stuntmonkey (557875) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:09AM (#32532962)

        A person might figure they could afford to hire a couple of engineers who already went through this trial and error.

        Two failures on a brand-new launch vehicle is not unusual for any country. These are complex systems operating close to their design limits, and they can only be partially tested on the ground. It's certainly a setback for the Korean engineers, but I would not look at two failures and immediately conclude they lack the right talent.

        This is an especially difficult case because none of the components have much flight heritage, which is ultimately how you reduce risk. This is why you see so much re-use in rocket designs in general, especially of high-risk components like engines and avionics.

        In many ways it's like software development. Any good developer knows that no matter how smart and experienced the engineers are, new code will almost always have bugs early on. Testing under realistic conditions is the only way to identify them. Unfortunately the only fully realistic test for a rocket is a launch.

    • by Glonoinha (587375)

      Test Driven Development in its truest form.
      Actually you write the test first and make sure it fails.
      Then you write the code (or build the rocket) and re-run the test. It will probably fail the first attempt, but you watch it in the debugger and figure out what you did wrong, then do it again.

      According to TDD after two or three more attempts they should be all set.

  • by quenda (644621) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:19AM (#32532288)

    Problem is not complexity, but lack of error margin.
    In any other field, even aircraft, you can over-engineer it a lot more. But with satellite launch rockets, everything has to be cut to absolute minimum. And even then, payload is only a miniscule fraction of launch weight.
        The other problem is that tests are expensive and failures tend to get noticed. If a new car engine prototype seizes up on the test track, it does not make the news.

    • The other problem is that tests are expensive...

      It would be interesting to know what sort of budget they had to work with. Contrast the Korean/Russian effort with that of these [spacex.com] guys. They seem to be able to afford quite rigorous testing, which I think has had a lot to do with their success on the launch pad.

      • I read that their budget was the korean equivalent of about $500 Million. I'm not sure what SpaceX spent, but I believe it probably was in the same ballpark. But SpaceX developed both stages, while RoK just developed the small upper stage & shroud for their rocket. They used a Russian developed 1st stage. Also the Falcon 9 rocket has a much larger payload capacity than the Naro-1.
        Score: Falcon 9, Naro-1
    • by trout007 (975317) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:55AM (#32533432)
      You are correct. In mechanical engineering we use Factor of Safety. This means how many times stronger did you design something than your analysis showed it needs to be. For most stuff I build we use a factor of 2-3 because it stays on the ground and the use of extra material is cheaper than taking time to make it light weight. Cars use around the same numbers. Buildings can go as low as 1.67. Aircraft are around 1.5-2.0. Human rated spacecraft are around 1.4 and some unmanned launchers are as low as 1.2. What this means is the lower the number the more analysis and testing you have to do to make sure you know your loads are right. Also not all material of the same specification is the same strength. If you try to break 10 different samples of aluminum you will get a normal distribution of how strong they are. If you are using a FS of 3 who cares. But if you are at 1.2 then you have to send every batch of material out for testing to make sure it is as strong as you designed for.
    • The other problem is that tests are expensive and failures tend to get noticed. If a new car engine prototype seizes up on the test track, it does not make the news.

      Neither does success...

  • by linzeal (197905) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:24AM (#32532316) Homepage Journal
    North Korea has the most brilliant people in the world and can help its neighbor accomplish anything. North Korea has punched the sky in the face and broke through to the stars where his magnanimous, magnificent even magniloquent Leader, the holiest Kim Jong Il is orbiting the planet right now [youtube.com] making sure the imperialist porcine satellites do not beam deadly radiation again unto the North Korean people's glorious fields of cabbage, rice and giant bunnies [spiegel.de].
    • I am sure North Korea would be more than pleased to send their southern cousins a test article or two.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I had no idea about the giant bunnies. But whoever decided to go for this, must never have heard that rabbits are a pretty bad food source [wikipedia.org]. But I guess I should know by now to take spiegel articles with a grain of salt.

      • by linzeal (197905)
        I would wager they are better than the 2 cups of rice (uncooked) a week the country is surviving on right now.
  • Seriously? South Korea failed twice IN A ROW? Straight? I can't believe it! I mean, what are the odds of two things going wrong RIGHT AFTER eachother? Erm, editorializing much?
  • Straight rocket as opposed to what? Crotch rockets [wikipedia.org]? Red rockets [wikipedia.org]? Rice rockets [wikipedia.org]? Ha. Ha.

  • Not to be nasty (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:09AM (#32532484)

    Not trying to be nasty, but if the people that work on the space program are anything like the Korean I'm working with, then maybe they should stop working through the night, stop working 18 hour days, get a weekend off every now and again, and get some proper food and some sleep.

    After a few months of 18 hour days you become a zombie. Regardless of effort (and well done to them for sacrificing their family life for work), Koreans are also human being, and they also need to go home and sleep every now and again, even if "going home" or "sleeping" is not part of the culture.

    • This is true of a few Korean people I have known. Speaking generally they do take things seriously over there, though not always to excess.

  • Maybe they should try hiring brain surgeons.
  • it seems the first part exloded which was made from russia --------------------Signature---------------- walk in tubs [walk-in-tub.org]
  • The rest of the world moved onto gay rockets decades ago.
  • How do you say "Suppuku" in Korean?

  • "In Soviet Korea..." anyone?

  • I would think rocketry would be pretty well understood and simple for any advanced Country to execute. I am a bit surprised at this given South Korea's standing in the world. I am sure they will sort this out in short order. I have had my eye on the Genesis Coupe. Perhaps I should wait a bit....
  • In other news, China has been conducting further successful tests of their anti-satellite laser system....
  • they also manufactured the on-board batteries.

  • So, any guesses? Structural failure shortly after MaxQ or avionics/guidance failure?
  • ... rocket science... oh wait, nevermind.

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