A South Korean satellite was working normally and transmitting data on its orbit, officials said Thursday, a day after a launch that marked an advance in the country's space program at a time of high tensions over archrival North Korea's recent threat to test a third nuclear device.
The South Korean rocket blasted off from a launch pad Wednesday in the southwestern coastal village of Goheung. Science officials told cheering spectators minutes later that the rocket delivered an observational satellite into orbit. The Science Ministry gave an update on its operations in a brief statement.
A crowd gathered around a TV at a train station in downtown Seoul to watch the afternoon launch. "I'm proud we have entered the ranks of satellite powers," office worker Hyun Day-sun said.
The launch is a culmination of years of efforts by South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, to advance its space program and cement its standing as a technology powerhouse whose semiconductors, smartphones and automobiles command global demand. North Korea's long-range rocket program, in contrast, has generated international fears that it is getting closer to developing nuclear missiles capable of striking the U.S.