|Names of the companies that participated in the Nuri space rocket project are written on the locally-developed space vehicle at Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, in this file photo. Courtesy of Hyundai Heavy Industries|
By Park Jae-hyuk
The successful launch on Tuesday of the Nuri rocket, also known as Korean Space Launch Vehicle II (KSLV-II), was the result of efforts by more than 300 private enterprises that took part in the 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion) government project, according to industry officials, Wednesday.
Contributing to the design, manufacture, testing and launch of the locally-developed space vehicle, the companies enabled Korea to become the seventh country in the world to put a satellite into orbit with its own rocket, accelerating the transition to the era of the space industry led by the private sector.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which has participated in the Nuri project since 2014, supervised the assembly of components supplied by the some 300 companies. It also manufactured the first-stage stage fuel tank and oxidizer tanks.
After a failed launch last October, the aerospace company structurally reinforced the rocket.
"We plan to lead another space project which will begin this year to enhance Korean space launch vehicles," a KAI official said.
Hanwha Aerospace directed the assembly and supply of six engines of the space vehicle. In particular, 75-ton liquid thrust engines were the key components for the rocket to overcome gravity and extreme conditions until it reaches the orbit.
The affiliate of Hanwha Group has already finished manufacturing engines to be used for the third launch of the Nuri. It is also considering disclosing its space business roadmap later this year.
A Hanwha Aerospace official said the company are proud of manufacturing the engines that are referred to as "the heart of the Nuri."
Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) directed the construction of the launchpad, based on its experience of building the launchpad of the Naro, also known as KSLV-I, in 2013.
The shipbuilder also built a 46-meter-tall umbilical tower used to fuel the rocket.
"In order to keep contributing to the development of Korea's aerospace industry, we will make more effort to improve our technologies," a HHI official said.
Hyundai Rotem established facilities to test propulsion systems. Small- and medium-sized enterprises, such as Doowon Heavy Industrial, S&K Aerospace and Inocom, each played a part, based on their expertise in materials, components and equipment.
"Domestic companies that contributed to the development and launch of the Nuri are highly likely to play major roles in establishing the K-space infrastructure," SK Securities analyst Na Seung-doo said.
The Korea Enterprises Federation said in a statement that the successful launch of the Nuri could not have been achieved without the private sector's creativity and innovation.