South Korea’s Nuri Booster Failed Due to Design Flaw

Nuri rocket on the launch pad at the Naro Space Center. (Credit: KARI)

An investigation has found that a design flaw in the third stage doomed the maiden launch of South Korea’s Nuri (KSLV-II) launcher on Oct. 21, according to a press release from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

The investigation found that the third stage engine shut down prematurely due to a leak in the third stage oxidizer tank. The leak was caused when a helium tank broke loose due to a design flaw, the statement said.

A dummy payload was released, but it was not able to enter orbit due to the premature engine shutdown. KARI has said that the first two stages performed as expected.

KARI had previously announced plans to launch the second Nuri rocket on May 19. KARI has not announced whether that flight will be delayed due to the need to fix the design flaw with the third stage helium tank.

Nuri is South Korea’s first domestically produced launch vehicle. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 1,500 kg into low Earth orbit.