(ATTN: RECASTS lead paras; UPDATES with remarks from science minister in paras 2-3, additional information, minor changes throughout)
By Byun Duk-kun
NARO SPACE CENTER, South Korea, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea successfully launched its first-ever space rocket Wednesday, the country's science minister said, with the satellite carried by the rocket also believed to have entered its intended orbit.
Whether the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), also known as Naro, has successfully deployed its payload satellite will be determined early Thursday (local time), Lee Ju-ho, minister of education, science and technology, told a press conference.
"At 4 p.m. today, the Naro was successfully launched. The satellite was deployed 540 seconds after the launch and an analysis of related data shows the satellite has successfully entered its target orbit," he said.
Soon after its deployment, the Science and Technology Satellite-2C began transmitting beacon signals, which were successfully received by a ground station in Norway about 90 minutes after the launch of the KSLV-1 from South Korea's Naro Space Center, according to officials from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
The successful transmission of beacon signal means the satellite is working properly, they said.
A final confirmation will be available around 4 a.m. Thursday when the satellite makes its first contact with the country's own ground station at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.
"The launch of the rocket itself succeeded," a KARI official said earlier. "Whether the entire mission of deploying the satellite into proper orbit was successful will be determined later in the day."
If the launch is confirmed to have been successful, it will make South Korea the world's 13th nation to have sent a satellite into space from its own soil.
Wednesday's launch of Naro was the country's third attempt to join the global space club after its two earlier attempts in 2009 and 2010 ended in failures.
The third launch of Naro had also been scheduled to take place on Oct. 26 and again on Nov. 29, but was delayed both times due to defective parts.
The lower or first-stage of the Naro was built by Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center under a 2004 pact signed with Russia.
Seoul, however, is seeking to develop its own space launch vehicles with plans to develop an indigenous 10-ton thrust engine by 2016 already under way.
The country earlier had plans to launch an indigenous 300-ton thrust space rocket carrying a 1.5-ton satellite in 2021, but the science minister said the development may now be completed sooner for a launch in 2018 or 2019.