SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's first domestically produced space rocket launched off the pad in Goheung but ultimately failed on its quest to deliver a dummy payload into orbit in its first test launch on Thursday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in still described the test as an "excellent accomplishment" that takes the country a step further in its pursuit of a space launch program.
According to Reuters, the three-stage Nuri rocket rose from the launch pad at 5 p.m. local time Thursday. The spacecraft reached its desired altitude, but officials said the final stage appeared to shut down 40-50 seconds early. That meant that the payload did not reach the speed needed to get to its intended target.
Reuters says that officials are investigating whether a lack of pressure inside the fuel tank or control computer malfunctions were to blame for the shutdown.
"It's not long before we'll be able to launch it exactly into the target trajectory," Moon said, according to a transcript. "The 'Korea Space Age' is approaching."
South Korea is trying to become the 10th nation to send a satellite into space with its own technology. Officials say such an ability would be crucial for the country's space ambitions. Those ambitions include acquiring its own military intelligence satellites and sending a probe to the moon by 2030.