SEOUL, South Korea South Korea said Wednesday that it successfully launched a satellite into space from its own soil for the first time, a point of national pride that came weeks after arch-rival North Korea accomplished a similar feat to the surprise of the world.
The South Korean rocket blasted off from a launch pad in the southwestern coastal village of Goheung. Science officials told cheering spectators minutes later that the rocket delivered an observational satellite into orbit.
Officials expected to know Thursday whether the satellite is operating as intended.
A crowd gathered around a TV at a train station in downtown Seoul to watch the 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, smart phones 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.