SEOUL: Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, said on 27 February that it had won an order to build South Korea’s first space rocket launch pad.
The contract from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute calls for a launch platform and related facilities at the Naro Space Center on a southern island off the town of Goheung.
South Korea plans to launch a 100 kilogram (220 pound) satellite into orbit from Naro in October 2008. Construction of the space centre will be completed early next year.
Following completion of the project, South Korea will become the world’s ninth nation capable of launching a satellite with its own technology. So far it has relied on centres in other countries to send its satellites into orbit.
Financial terms were not given but Hyundai Heavy said it would build launch facilities, fuelling systems and a control room.
The launch pad capable of accommodating two rockets will help South Korea become a global space power, a company official said.
“Based on Russian data, we have acquired the know-how of rocket launching,” he said.
South Korea also plans to send its first citizen into space in April next year aboard a Russian spacecraft.