South Korea joins global space club with rocket launch
South Korea joins global space club with rocket launch
The S. Korean rocket blasted off from a launch pad in the southwestern coastal village of Goheung. Officials told cheering spectators minutes later that the rocket delivered an observational satellite into orbit. Officials expected to know today 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 am 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 S. 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. N. 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 US.
S. Korea’s success comes amid increased tension on the Korean Peninsula over North’s threat to explode its third nuclear device. Pyongyang is angry over tough new international sanctions over its Dec. 12 rocket launch and has accused its rivals of applying double standards toward the two Koreas’ space programs.
Washington and Seoul have called North Korea’s rocket launch a cover for a test of Pyongyang’s banned ballistic missile technology.
Pyongyang recently acknowledged that its long-range rockets have both scientific and military uses, and Kong Chang-duk, a professor of rocket science at S. Korea’s Chosun University, said the same argument could apply to the South.
Seoul may eventually be able “to build better missiles and scrutinize Pyongyang with a better satellite,” Kong said. “... There are dual purposes in space technology.” Both Koreas see the development of space programs as crucial hallmarks of their scientific prowess and national pride, and both had high-profile failures before success. S. Korean satellites were already in space, launched from countries including Japan, the United States and Russia. Seoul tried and failed to launch satellites on its own in 2009 and 2010; more recent launch attempts were aborted at the last minute.
US experts have described the North’s satellite as tumbling in space and said it does not appear to be functioning, though Pyongyang has said it is working.
Pyongyang’s state television made no mention of the S. Korean launch, but about an hour after liftoff it showed archive footage of N. Koreans cheering the three-stage rocket from last month. Images from the launch frequently appear in N. Korean propaganda.
The satellite launched by Seoul is designed to analyze weather data, measure radiation in space, gauges distances on earth and test how effectively their devices installed on the satellite operate in space. S. Korean officials said it will help them develop more sophisticated satellites in the future.
South did need outside help to launch the satellite: The rocket’s first stage was designed and built by Russian experts. Pyongyang built its rocket almost entirely on its own, S. Korean military experts said earlier this month after analyzing debris retrieved from the Yellow Sea in December.
Kim Seung-jo, S. Korea’s chief space official, told reporters that his country should be able to independently produce a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit by as early as 2018.
86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police
JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”