South Korea plans to develop reusable rocket with 100-ton thrust engines

South Korea plans to develop reusable rocket with 100-ton thrust engines

Reusable Rocket Development

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREAN REPUBLIC — South Korea will begin developing a reusable rocket with a cluster of liquid-fueled 100-ton thrust engines next year. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) will be in charge of its development, while the mission’s exact timeline and other elements are yet unknown.

The plan was unveiled Nov. 10 by a lawmaker from the ruling party after a meeting that included:

  • Minister of Science and ICT Lim Hye-sook
  • Members of the National Assembly’s Science
  • ICT, Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications Committee.

“The development of a high-performance reusable rocket with liquid-fueled 100-ton thrust engines will begin next year,” said Cho Seung-rae, a representative from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.

“A liquid-fueled high-performance rocket engine is required [for South Korea] to successfully complete the missions of launching a [robotic].” The plan is to launch a lunar lander by 2030 and establish the Korea Positioning System on its own by 2035.”

The Engine’s Picture

Cho claims that the engine he envisions will be “capable of controlling its thrust with four successive reburns,” a feature that will “substantially reduce launch cost.” According to the member, the government would conduct a two-year preliminary investigation into the matter, with a budget of 12 billion won ($10.2 million) set aside.

The government’s budget request for 2022 did not include “reusability,” therefore the ambition to create a reusable rocket came as a surprise. South Korea’s next-generation rocket was to be a one-time-use type that was “larger and more powerful” than the KSLV-2. On Oct. 21, a three-stage rocket with four KRE-075 engines in its first-stage booster will be launched.

Cho gave no explanation for the shift. He also didn’t say whether the projected reusable rocket would be the country’s next-generation launch vehicle or if it would be produced alongside an advanced expendable rocket. This problem, along with others, is aimed to encourage the domestic space sector, according to the congressman. This will be discussed in a meeting of the National Space Council, the Prime Minister’s top decision-making body on space issues, on Nov. 15.


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