Test Flight | Nuri

Lift Off Time
October 21, 2021 – 08:00 UTC | 17:00 KST
Mission Name
Nuri Maiden Flight
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
Korea Aerospace Research Institute
(Who paid for this?)
Korea Aerospace Research Institute
Nuri (KSLV-II)
Launch Location
LC-2, Naro Space Center, Goheung, South Jeolla Province, South Korea
Payload mass
1,500 kg (3,300 lb)
Where was the payload supposed to go?
Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO)
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
No, Nuri is not capable of recovery
Where did the first stage land?
In the sea between South Korea and Japan
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
No, Nuri is not capable of recovery
Were these fairings new?
This was the:
– 1st mission of the Nuri rocket
– 4th Korea Aerospace Research Institute mission
– 4th mission of a KSLV rocket

– 100th orbital launch attempt of 2021
Where to watch
KARI Official Replay

How did it go?

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) attempted to launch their new rocket, Nuri, from Naro Space Center, in South Korea. The rocket successfully lifted off the pad and managed to reach its target apogee, but it failed to place its dummy payload, a 1,500 kg block of stainless steel and aluminum, into orbit. The rocket launched an hour later than initially planned as engineers spent extra time examining the rockets valves.

Nuri launches (Credit: KARI)

Following a successful lift off, the rocket performed nominally as the first and second stages separated, the fairings were jettisoned, and the dummy payload was ejected from the third stage after the rocket reached its target apogee. The first stage was expected to be the missions biggest obstacle, but it performed perfectly.

However, the third stage shut down about 50 seconds early, burning for 475 seconds rather than the intended 521 seconds, which meant the dummy payload could not achieve orbital speed. KARI later said that the payload debris will have landed in the ocean south of Australia. The premature shutdown is reported to have been caused either by a malfunction of the shutdown command, a malfunction of the pressurizing system, or a valve anomaly.

Speaking after the launch, South Korean President Moon Jae-In said, “Although (the launch) failed to achieve its objectives perfectly, it was an excellent accomplishment for a first launch. The separations of the rockets, fairings, and the dummy satellite worked smoothly. All this was done based on technology that is completely ours.”

KARI are now targeting May 2022 for Nuri’s next launch.

Nuri on the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal (Credit: The Ministry of Science and ICT)

Nuri Maiden Flight

Nuri (누리), which means “world,” (also known as KSLV-II) is South Korea’s second rocket. It is the successor of the Naro-1 (KSLV-I), South Korea’s first ever rocket, which was successfully launched in 2013. Because the first stage of Naro-1 was built in Russia, Nuri is the countries first fully indigenous rocket. The rocket was primarily developed by KARI, but around 300 companies also played a role in the development, including Korea Aerospace Industries, Hanwha Aerospace, and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

On this maiden flight Nuri carried a dummy satellite, but KARI plans to take a ~200 kg satellite and a ~1,320 kg dummy satellite to orbit when they next launch Nuri in May 2022.

It is hoped that Nuri will be used to launch Earth observing satellites, such as KARI’s KOMPSAT which has previously been launched on the Ariane 5 rocket. KARI has also planned to use Nuri for South Korea’s future Moon exploration missions, with an improved version of the rocket expected to launch a lunar lander in 2030.

A test model of Nuri (Credit: The Ministry of Science and ICT)

2018 Test Flight

A single stage test version of the rocket was launched on November 28, 2018 from Naro Space Centre, allowing KARI to verify the performance of their engine and flight control systems. During the test, the main engine burned for 151 seconds, surpassing the initial goal of 140 seconds. The rocket then reached a maximum altitude of 209 km after flying for 319 seconds. The rocket landed in international waters between Korea’s Jeju Island and Japan’s Okinawa Island.

What is Nuri?

Nuri is a three stage rocket, capable of launching a 1500 kg payload into a 600–800 km low-Earth orbit (LEO) and a 2,600 kg payload into a 300 km LEO. The rocket is 47.2 m (155 ft) in height, and 3.5 m (11 ft) in diameter.

First Stage

The rocket’s first stage uses four KRE-075 sea level engines, which together produce 2,612 kN of thrust with a specific impulse (ISP) of 289.1 seconds. The stage burns for 127 seconds and uses Jet A-1 and Liquid Oxygen (LOx) propellant.

Second Stage

The second stage uses a single KRE-075 Vacuum engine, which has a wider nozzle than the Sea Level engine for increased efficiency and performance in a vacuum environment. The stage will burn for 148 seconds, and like the first stage engines, this stage uses Jet A-1 and LOX fuel. The engine produces 788 kN of thrust and has a ISP of 315.4 seconds in vacuum.

Third Stage

The rockets third stage uses one KRE-007 engine which produces 69 kN of thrust. The engine will burn for 498 seconds, and just like the first and second stages it uses Jet A-1 and LOX fuel. The third stage has an ISP of 325.1 seconds in vacuum.

The KRE-075 engine (Credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute)

Flight Profile*

00:02:07First stage separation 59 km
00:03:53Fairing jettison
00:04:34Second stage separation 258 km
00:16:16Dummy satellite released700 km
*All times approximate

Future Versions of Nuri

An upgraded version of Nuri, the GEO KSLV, is currently in development, which will be capable of taking payloads to geostationary orbit. This version will use four KRE-090 engines on the first stage, assisted by four side boosters each with a single KRE-090 engine. The second stage will use a single vacuum optimized version of the KRE-090 engine. The third stage will use a KRE-010V oxidizer-rich staged combustion engine.

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