South Korea’s New Rocket: Made in Russia (Partly)

Peter J. Brown has a great analytical piece about South Korea’s new Naro-1 (KSLV-1) rocket, which is set for its inaugural launch in the next week.

Brown delves into Seoul’s prickly 6-year partnership with the Russians, who built the first stage of the two-stage vehicle. Despite being on the verge of the first launch, the relationship with Russia has soured a bit over delivery delays and by Khrunichev’s refusal to share information about the first stage due to tech transfer concerns.

The Russo-South Korean partnership began in 2003, driven largely by decades of refusal by Washington to provide assistance over fears of spurring on an Asian arms race. Since then, relations with the U.S. and NASA have actually improved.

Brown discusses North Korea’s rival missile program, and delves into South Korea’s efforts are viewed in Washington, Tokyo and Beijing from both strategic and commercial perspectives. As with all of Brown’s work, the article is nuanced, well sourced and best read in its entirety.