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The space launch vehicle being developed by KARI using its own technology can launch a 1.5-ton utility satellite into the low earth orbit of 600 - 800 km above the earth. The three-stage launch vehicle uses four 75-ton liquid engines in stage 1, a 75-ton liquid engine in stage 2, and a 7-ton liquid engine in stage 3.
KARI carried out the preliminary R&D such as development of 30-ton liquid engine parts and design of a 75-ton liquid engine for the development of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri). The Institute is internally developing 75-ton and 7-ton liquid engines to be used by the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri) based on the preceding development.
It plans to conduct about 200 and 150 combustion tests for the 75-ton engine and 7-ton engine, respectively, to improve the performance and reliability of liquid engines. Specifically, it will conduct comprehensive combustion tests according to the actual launch environment and procedures. The comprehensive combustion test uses a certified model that is the same as the actual flight model and checks the performance of the engine and key components. KARI completed the comprehensive combustion test of stage 2 of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri), and it plans to conduct tests for the remaining stage 1 and stage 3.
KARI is also developing a staged combustion cycle engine featuring higher combustion efficiency but higher development complexity than the existing engines. The staged combustion cycle engine will be used to improve the performance of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri) in the future.
After the development of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri), KARI plans to foster the launch service eco-system based on Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri), and to link and expand it to the small launch vehicle platform (2025 - 2030), and secure the technology related to the large launch vehicle platform (2030 - 2040).
The test launch vehicle is used to check the performance of the 75-ton liquid engine as the main engine for the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri) in actual flight. It was successfully launched in the Naro Space Center on November 28, 2018, enabling KARI to verify the performance of the internally developed 75-ton engine.
The successful development of the test launch vehicle is meaningful since it secured the design, manufacturing, and assembly know-how of components such as the engine and tanks of the launch vehicle and verified in advance the performance of the built-in subsystems to be used in the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (Nuri). The successful launch of the test launch vehicle was selected as one of the 10 Outstanding Research Outcomes in 2018 by the National Research Council of Science and Technology.