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Naroho (KSLV-Ⅰ), Korea's first indigenous space launch vehicle, successfully launched a small 100kg-class satellite in low-earth orbit on January 30, 2013, thus laying the foundations for launch vehicle self-sufficiency in Korea.
The Naroho (KSLV-I) program was part of a space launch vehicle program executed with the goal of attaining sufficient technology and experience to be able to independently develop a Korea Space Launch Vehicle in accordance with the National Space Development Plan.
The development of Naroho (KSLV-I) required international cooperation and domestic development in parallel. It was the decision made to quickly attain the technology and advanced know-how when the technology on space launch vehicle was just at the beginning level at that time.
Russia was selected as the partner for international cooperation as she is one of the leaders in the development of space launch vehicles. In fact, Russia was the only advanced country in the field of space launch vehicles that was willing to cooperate, and had the intention to commercialize Korea’s launch vehicle technology.
As such, the 1st stage of the Naroho (KSLV-I) program was undertaken by Russia, while the 2nd stage was carried out by KARI. Then Korea and Russia jointly operated the system integration and launching, including the assembly and testing of the system.
Naroho (KSLV-I) played a key role in Korea’s acquisition of the experience needed for the independent development of a Korea Space Launch Vehicle. The project resulted in the construction of a launch station for Korean satellites by Korean in Korea, as well as the acquisition of technology and experience throughout the whole process of designing, assembling and operating the launch vehicle system.
Given that the international environment makes the transfer of launch vehicle engine technology virtually impossible, the preceding research on core technologies - including the 30-ton and 75-ton class liquid engine technologies and the large propellant tank needed for the independent development of a launch vehicle - was conducted in tandem with the development of Naroho (KSLV-I). The design for the first launch vehicle propulsion engine testing facility in Korea was also carried out to ensure early construction.
The participation of more than 150 enterprises throughout the development of Naroho (KSLV-I) led to the overall advancement of the industries, academia, and research institutes related to the launch vehicle in Korea. It was significant in that it laid firm foundations for self-sufficiency and the capacity to independently develop the launch vehicle. In fact, the level of Korea's launch vehicle technology is judged to have increased from 46% of leading countries before the Naroho (KSLV-I) program to 83% after the program.
The Naroho (KSLV-I) program was considered one of the top ten outcomes among the seventy leading scientific and engineering achievements commemorating the 70th year of Korea’s liberation from colonial rule.