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“South Korea adds more garbage to the universe,” says Japanese commenter Biannan

The third successful launch of the indigenous space launch vehicle Nuri was quickly reported by the Japanese media. Japanese netizens’ reactions to the news were mixed, with some saying, “More space junk,” and others expressing alarm that Japan’s space technology could lose out to South Korea.

On Sept. 26 (local time), the Japanese portal Yahoo Japan published a number of articles related to the third launch of the Nuri. However, Japanese Nuri users in the comment section and online communities had mixed reactions.

Some said, “We’re a space power after a few test launches of a rocket made with an outdated Russian design and parts?” and “There’s more garbage in the universe.”

Nuri (KSLV-Ⅱ), a Korean launch vehicle developed with indigenous technology, lifts off from the Naruju Center in Goheung-gun, South Jeolla Province, on the afternoon of Sept. 25. [Image source=Yonhap]

There was also some mockery of the “space G7,” a term often used in South Korea that refers to the seven nations that have successfully launched satellites using indigenous launch vehicles. “They’re patting themselves on the back with a term they made up,” one commenter wrote.

Others, however, were wary of South Korea’s rapidly catching up with the developed world. “Japan failed and South Korea succeeded in launching a (rocket),” one commenter wrote, “We’re already behind the U.S. and China, and we could be overtaken by India, and this could put us in competition with South Korea.”

Japan, a traditional space power, has struggled to develop a next-generation launch vehicle. On March 7, it launched the first stage of its next-generation H3 rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, but it failed to achieve its mission because the second stage engine failed to ignite during ascent.

The H3 rocket, Japan’s next-generation launch vehicle, failed after its second stage engine failed to ignite [Image source: Getty].

In the end, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which organized the test, ordered the vehicle to be destroyed just 15 minutes after liftoff. Debris from the destroyed rocket reportedly landed in the sea east of the Philippines.

JAXA also attempted to launch a small solid-fuel rocket안전놀이터, the Ypsilon-6, in October last year, but it failed. It was the first time in 19 years that a Japanese-developed rocket had failed to launch since the H2A-6 rocket in November 2003.

The Nihongeizai Shimbun commented, “Both large and small rockets have failed. The prospects for future rocket launches are bleak,” the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, the third successful launch of the Nuri will be followed by three more launches until 2027 to increase the rocket’s reliability. Hanwha Aerospace will then take on the role of ‘system integrator’ by transferring the production know-how.

Just as the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected a private company, SpaceX, as a partner to transfer core technologies, the intention seems to be to transfer the space business to the private sector.

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