South Korea’s KSLV-2 Rocket Delivers Payloads To Orbit

South Korea’s domestically developed KSLV-2 “Nuri” rocket successfully placed six payloads into low Earth orbit Tuesday, after lifting off from from Naro Space Center at 4 PM KST. This follows an earlier attempt in October which failed to reach orbit after the booster’s third stage engine shutdown prematurely. The flight followed an initial trajectory over the East China Sea, after which the upper stage steered out towards the Philippine Sea, finally placing the payload in the desired orbital inclination of 98 degrees. This less-than-ideal path wasted energy, but ensured that the first and second stages fell into the ocean and not onto people. Success was confirmed shortly after launch as the vehicle passed over South Korea’s King Sejong Station in Antarctica.

The payload on this test flight was primarily a mass simulator of 1.3 metric tons, but a small Performance Verification Satellite (PVSAT) was included, for a grand total of 1.5 metric tons. The PVSAT itself monitors vehicle performance, but also serves as a carrier for four CubeSats. These were developed by engineering teams at various local universities and will be deployed in the coming days.

If you’re inclined to track these, the launch has been given COSPAR ID 2022-065 and the first three objects (third stage, dummy mass, and PVSAT) have been assigned the NORAD catalog numbers 52894, 52895, and 52896. It’s too early to tell which is which at this point, but as more data about their respective orbits are collected, it should be possible to tell them apart. The next four catalog numbers, 52897 – 52900, have been reserved for the CubeSats once they are released.

With this launch, South Korea has become the 10th nation to put a payload into space using its own domestic technology, and the 7th to loft a payload of more than one ton to orbit — joining the ranks of the United States, Russia, Japan, China, France, and India.

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South Korean KSLV-2 Nuri Rocket Almost Orbits

There was a bit of excitement recently at the Naro Space Center on Outer Naro Island, just off the southern coast of the Korea Peninsula. The domestically developed South Korean Nuri rocket departed on its inaugural flight from launch pad LB-2 at 5pm in the afternoon on Thursday, 21 Oct. The previous launch in the KSLV-2 program from this facility was in 2018, when a single-stage Test Launch Vehicle was successfully flown and proved out the basic vehicle and its KRE-075 engines.

This final version of the three-stage Nuri rocket, formally known as Korean Space Launch Vehicle-II (KSLV-2), is 47.2 m long and 3.5 m in diameter. The first stage is powered by a cluster of four KRE-075 sea-level engines having 3 MN of thrust. The second stage is a single KRE-075 vacuum engine with 788 kN thrust, and the final stage is a KRE-007 vacuum engine with 69 kN thrust (all these engines are fueled by Jet-A / LOX). In this maiden flight, the first two stages performed as expected, but something went wrong when the third stage shut off prematurely and failed to gain enough velocity to put the 1400 kg dummy satellite into orbit.

A committee formed to investigate the flight failure convened this week, and issued a statement after a preliminary review of the collected telemetry data. So far, all indications point to a drop in oxidizer tank pressure in the third stage. This could be the result of a leak in the tank itself or the associated plumbing. They will also investigate whether a sensor or other failure in the tank pressurization control system could be at fault. A second launch is currently scheduled for May of next year. Check out [Scott Manley]’s video below the break, where he discusses the launch itself and some history of South Korea’s space program.

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3D Printing Makes Modular Payload For Model Rocket

Putting payloads into model rockets can be more complex than simply shoving stuff into an open spot, so [concretedog] put some work into making a modular payload tube for his current rocket. The nose cone for his rocket is quite large, so he opted to give it a secure payload area that doesn’t compromise or interfere with any of the structural or operational bits such as the parachute.

The payload container is a hollow tube with a 3D printed threaded adaptor attached to one end. Payload goes into the tube, and the tube inserts into a hole in the bulkhead, screwing down securely. The result is an easy way to send up something like a GPS tracker, possibly with a LoRa module attached to it. That combination is a popular one with high-altitude balloons, which, like rockets, also require people to retrieve them after not-entirely-predictable landings. LoRa wireless communications have very long range, but that doesn’t help if there’s an obstruction like a hill between you and the transmitter. In those cases, a simple LoRa repeater attached to a kite, long pole, or drone can save the day.

We’ve seen [concretedog]’s work before, when he designed stackable PCBs intended to easily fit inside model rocket bodies, allowing for easy integration of microcontroller-driven functions like delayed ignitions or altimeter triggers. Better development tools, hardware, and 3D printing has really helped make smarter rocketry more accessible to hobbyists.

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Hackaday Links: January 20, 2019

Let’s say you’re an infosec company, and you want some free press. How would you do that? The answer is Fortnite. Yes, this is how you hack Fortnite. This is how to hack Fortnite. The phrase ‘how to hack Fortnite’ is a very popular search term, and simply by including that phrase into the opening paragraph of this post guarantees more views. This is how you SEO.

Lasers kill cameras. Someone at CES visited the AEye booth, snapped a picture of an autonomous car at AEye’s booth, and the LIDAR killed the sensor. Every subsequent picture had a purple spot in the same place. While we know lasers can kill camera sensors, and this is a great example of that, this does open the door to a few questions: if autonomous cars have LIDAR and are covered in cameras, what’s going to happen to the cameras in an autonomous car driving beside another autonomous car? Has anyone ever seen more than one Cruise or Waymo car in the same place at the same time? As an aside, AEye’s company website’s URL is, nearly beating (they sell pens on Pen Island) as the worst company URL ever.

This is something I’ve been saying for years, but now there’s finally a study backing me up. Lego is a viable investment strategy. An economist at Russia’s Higher School of Economics published a study, collecting the initial sale price of Lego sets from 1987 to 2015. These were then compared to sales of full sets on the secondary market. Returns were anywhere between 10 and 20% per year, which is crazy. Smaller sets (up to about 100 pieces) had higher returns than larger sets. This goes against my previous belief that a Hogwarts Castle, Saturn V, and UCS Falcon-heavy portfolio would outperform a portfolio made of cheap Lego sets. However, this observation could be tied to the fact that smaller sets included minifig-only packaging, and we all know the Lego minifig market is a completely different ball of wax. The Darth Revan minifig, sold as an exclusive for $3.99 just a few years ago, now fetches $35 on Bricklink. Further study is needed, specifically to separate the minifig market from the complete set market, but the evidence is coming in: Lego is a viable investment strategy, even when you include the 1-2% yearly cost of storing the sets.

Relativity Space got a launchpad. Relativity Space is an aerospace startup that’s building a rocket capable of lobbing my car into Low Earth Orbit with a methalox engine. They’re doing it with 3D printing. [Bryce Salmi], one of the hardware engineers at Relativity Space, recently gave a talk at the Hackaday Superconference about printing an entire rocket. The design is ambitious, but if there’s one device that’s perfectly suited for 3D printing, it’s a rocket engine. There are a lot of nonmachinable tubes going everywhere in those things.

3D Printing An Entire Rocket

If you’re ever flying into LAX and have the left side window seat, just a few minutes before landing, look out the window. You’ll see a small airport just below you and what appears at first glance to be a smokestack. That’s not a smokestack, though: that’s a rocket, and that’s where SpaceX is building all their rockets. Already SpaceX has revolutionized the aerospace industry, but just down the street there’s another company that’s pushing the manufacturing of rocket engines a bit further. Relativity Space is building rockets. They’re 3D printing rocket engines, and they’re designing what could be the first rocket engine made on Mars.

Bryce Salmi is an avionics hardware engineer at Relatively Space, and he made it out to the 2018 Hackaday Superconference to tell us all about manufacturing rockets. It’s an entirely new approach to manufacturing rockets and rocket engines with a clean-slate design that could eventually be manufactured on Mars.

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Retrotechtacular: Rocket Sleds

If you need to test rockets, missiles, or ejection-seat systems, your first instinct would be to shoot them up in the air and see what happens. But if you want data, film footage, or the ability to simply walk away from a test, you might consider running your experiment on a rocket sled.

The Holloman High Speed Test Track is a 15 km long stretch of meticulously straight railroad track located in the middle of the New Mexico desert, and bristling with measurement equipment. Today’s Retrotechtacular video (embedded below) gives you the guided tour. And by the way, the elderly colonel who narrates? He doesn’t just run the joint — he was one of the human test subjects put on a rocket sled to test the effects of high acceleration on humans. You can see him survive a run around 1:00 in. Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Rocket Sleds”

Fail Of The Week (in 1996): The 7 Billion Dollar Overflow

The year was 1996, the European Space agency was poised for commercial supremacy in space. Their new Ariane 5 Rocket could launch two three-ton satellites into space. It had more power than anything that had come before.

The rocket rose up towards the heavens on a pillar of flame, carrying four very expensive and very uninsured satellites. Thirty-seven seconds later it self destructed. Seven billion dollars of RUD rained down on the local beaches near the Guiana Space Centre in Southern South America. A video of the failed launch is after the break.

The cause of all this was a single improper type cast in a bit of code that wasn’t even supposed to run during the actual launch. Talk about a fail.

There were two bits of code. One that measured the sideways velocity, and one that used it in the guidance system. The measurement side used a 64 bit variable, but the guidance side used a 16 bit variable. The code was borrowed from an earlier, slower rocket whose velocity would never grow large enough to exceed that 16 bits. The Ariane 5, however, could be described with a Daft Punk song, and quickly overflowed this value.

The code that caused the overflow was actually a bit of pre-launch software that aligned the rocket. It was supposed to be turned off before the rocket firing, but since the rocket launch got delayed so often, the engineers made it timeout 40 seconds into the launch so they didn’t have to keep restarting it.

The ESA never placed blame on a single contractor. The programmers had made assumptions. The engineers had made reasonable shortcuts to make their job easier. It had all made it through inspections, approvals, and finally the launch event.

They certainly learned from the event; the Ariane 5 rocket has flown 82 out of 86 missions successfully since then. It has at least five more launches contracted before it is retired in 2023 for the Ariane 6 rocket being developed now. This event also changed the way critical software and redundant systems were tested, bringing the dangers of code failure to the attention of the public for the first time.

If you want to read more, there is a great discussion on Reddit which tipped us off to this fail, a quite thorough Wikipedia article, and the original article that ran in the New York Times is mirrored here.

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