New Launchers – KSLV

New Launchers - KSLV

KSLV (Korean Space Launch Vehicle) is a Russian/South Korea rocket developed to launch the first earth orbiting satellite from South Korea proper.  KSLV cost about $410 million to develop, including the creation of a new launch site.  It was designed to add South Korea to the world’s “satellite club”.     

The KSLV program began in October 2004, when Russia and South Korea signed a bi-lateral inter-governmental agreement that called for joint development of KSLV-1 and of the Naro launch site. 

The first two-stage KSLV version, called KSLV-1 or Naro 1 (“Naro ho”), consists of an Angara-derived kerosene/LOX first stage, developed by Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, topped by a small solid fuel second stage developed by South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). 

KSLV-1 stands 33 meters, is 2.9 meters in diameter, and weighs 140 tonnes.  Its 28.5 meter tall first stage, powered by an Energomash RD-151 engine, will produce 170 tonnes of thrust.  The approximately 2.4 meter long, 1 meter diameter second stage will produce 8 tonnes of thrust.

KSLV-1 will only be able to lift 100 kg to low earth orbit (LEO) from its new Naro Space Center launch site.  Naro is located on Oeraro-do, an island at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.  Russia’s KBTM developed the KSLV-1 launch systems, which include a wheeled horizontal transporter that drives the assembled missile to a fixed erector system at the pad only two days prior to launch. 

Autocoupler systems similar to those used by Zenit are employed to simplify vehicle set up on the pad.  Construction began at Naro in 2003.  The Center includes the launch pad, a launch control building, a vehicle assembly building, and test stands.

RD-151 is believed to be a lower-pressure version of the RD-191 engine planned to power Russia’s Angara first stage.  RD-191 is expected to produce 196 tonnes of thrust at liftoff, 15% more than RD-151.

The KARI second stage consists of a solid motor attached beneath an approximately 2 meter diameter structure that houses guidance and flight control equipment.   The stage is not spin stabilized.  Instead, it is fitted with 3-axis control that allows it to coast if needed

.  Control is provided by reaction control thrusters.  KARI developed not only the second stage motor, but also the flight avionics and the payload fairing.  The second stage and payload fairing combined length is 7.75 meters.  KARI delivered its initial second stage and payload fairing set to Naro in April 2008.    

Khrunichev delivered a ground test first stage vehicle in June 2008, which was used to certify the new launch site equipment during tests that lasted until December 2008.  The company shipped its first flight unit to Naro in June, 2009.  A qualification or certification test firing of a similar KSLV-1 booster engine was performed near Moscow on July 30, 2009.   

An upgraded KSLV-2 version was projected for future development.   KSLV-2 would lift 1.5 tonnes to LEO, implying use of a heavier, possibly liquid fueled, second stage.  The upgraded rocket would not fly until 2017 at the earliest.

Russia’s Angara, named after a fast-flowing 1,800 km long Siberian river, has not flown as of early 2013. 

Also read: Kosmos 3M – Space Launch Report

Inaugural Launch Failure

New Launchers - KSLV

First KSLV-1 Lifts Off

The first KSLV-1 launch attempt took place on August 25, 2009 from Naro.  It was an attempt to boost STSat-2, a 100 kg test satellite, into a 306 x 1,500 km near polar orbit.  The first stage portion of the ascent was successful, but one of the two payload fairing halves failed to separate.  Orbital velocity could not be attained.

Second KSLV-1 Launch Fails

New Launchers - KSLV

The second Korean Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-1) failed after liftoff from South Korea’s Naro space center on June 10, 2010.  A “flash” was seen and telemetry was lost 137 seconds into the flight, about 60% of the way into the burn of the vehicle’s Energomash RD-151 first stage engine.  The cause of the failure was not immediately apparant.

The rocket was carrying a second STSat-2B engineering test satellite, similar to the satellite lost when the first KSLV-1 failed on August 25, 2009.  That failure was the result of a payload fairing separation problem.

KSLV-1 was developed jointly by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. Khrunichev builds the Anagara-based first stage.  KARI is resposible for the solid motor upper stage and payload fairing.  The 3 by 33 meter, two-stage rocket weighs 140 metric tons and is able to lift about 100 kg to low earth orbit.

First Orbital Launch from South Korea

New Launchers - KSLV

Successful Third Launch

A joint Russian/South Korean rocket named “Korean Space Launch Vehicle-1” (KSLV-1) successfully orbited South Korea’s STSAT-2C satellite from Naro Space Center in South Korea on January 30, 2013.  The success followed two previous KSLV launch failures from the same site in 2009 and 2010.  The flight added South Korea to the list of 13 countries that have hosted orbital launches.  

The two-stage rocket, consisting of a Russian Krunichev Angara-derived kerosene/LOX first stage topped by a South Korean KARI solid fuel second stage, lifted off at 07:00 UTC.    The 33 meter tall, 2.9 meter diameter, 140 tonne rocket rose on 170 tonnes of thrust produced by a single Energomash RD-151 staged combustion cycle engine.  The stage burned for almost 229 seconds, with payload fairing separation occuring shortly before the RD-151 shut down. 

The KARI second stage, consisting of a solid motor attached beneath an approximately 2 meter diameter structure that housed guidance and flight control equipment, then separated and coasted for a couple of minutes, approximately, before beginning its nearly 58 second long burn.

  The 2.4 meter long, 1 meter diameter second stage motor produced 8 tonnes of thrust while using 3-axis control provided by reaction control thrusters during its coast and burn. 

100 kg STSAT-2C separated into a 296 x 1,513 km x 80.3 deg orbit about nine minutes after liftoff.

The 2009 KSLV-1 failure was caused by one of the two payload fairing halves failing to separate.  In 2010, the second KSLV-1 exploded two minutes into flight, during the first stage burn. 

Vehicle Configurations

 LEO Payload
(metric tons)
(1) 300 km x ? deg
(metric tons)
KSLV-10.1 t1xURM + KARI Stg233 m140 t
KSLV-21.5 t1xURM + ?  

Vehicle Components

Stage 1
Universal Rocket Module
Stage 2
KARI Solid
Diameter (m)2.9 m~ 1.0/2.0 m (est)~ 2 m (est)
Length (m)28.5 m~2.4 m (est)~ 5 m (est)
Empty Mass (tonnes)
Burnout Mass (tonnes)~10.5 t (est)~ 0.2 t (est)
Propellant Mass (tonnes)~127.5 t (est)~ 1.3 t (est)
Total Mass (tonnes)~138 t (est)~ 1.5 t (est)~0.2 t (est)
(SL tons)
170 t
(Vac tons)
~177.6 t8 t
ISP (SL sec)309 s
ISP (Vac sec)338 s~250 s (est)
Burn Time (sec)229 s58 s
No. Engines/Motors11
CommentsStaged Combustion
Pitch/Yaw Gimbal
Thruster Roll
Solid + 3 axis RCS

KSLV-1 Launch History


DATE     VEHICLE         ID      PAYLOAD               MASS(t) SITE*      ORBIT*
08/25/09 KSLV-1          001     STSAT-2               0.1    NA        [FTO][1]
06/10/10 KSLV-1          002     STSAT 2B              0.099  NA        [FTO][2]
01/30/13 KSLV-1          003     STSAT-2C              0.1    NA         LEO [3]


[1] First S. Korean orbital attempt.  1 of 2 PL fairing halves failed to sep.  
    Planned 306 x 1,500 km near-polar orbit.
[2] Telemetry lost T+137sec during Stg 1 burn.  Intended for LEO.

[3] First S. Korean orbital success.
NA = Naro Space Center
[FTO] = Failed to Orbit
 LEO  = Low Earth Orbit

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