On January 30, the South Korean rocket KSLV-1 successfully placed a space scientific and research satellite into the Earth’s orbit. Development of KSLV-1 rocket, also called Naro-1, started in 2002. Since 2004, two Russian companies were participating in this labor intensive project as per the concluded contract: the first stage was created by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, while the Design bureau of transport machine building was responsible for design and implementation of the ground complex project. Initially, the KSLV-1 launch was scheduled for November 29, 2012 but was cancelled due to a number of detected system malfunctions. Successful launch of Naro-1 became the third in a row attempt of South Korea to join the list of states which had placed a space satellite into the earth orbit using own-produced boost rockets. Two previous attempts occurred in 2009 and 2010 and were unsuccessful for Seoul. Now, the opportunity to become a member of the honorable space club is becoming real.
Logistics for delivery of the Russian part of the rocket to Korea was as follows. The rolling stock with the first stage was sent from Moscow to Ulyanovsk (Vostochny airport), and then loaded on board the An-124-100 owned by Polyot Airlines. After that, the unique cargo was taken to the airport of Pusan. Then, the first stage of the booster was shipped to the South Korean center Naro.
Overall weight of the space cargo exceeded 55 tons, its length was 38 meters. For Polyot Airlines this was the fourth transport of the space item of this type from Russia to South Korea. As reported by Grigory Bashkirev, Head of Polyot Airlines press service, the company has been an assigned carrier of Roskosmos since 1999. This allows it to deliver such cargoes to Russian and foreign partners.
Only An-124-100 is capable of transporting this kind of load – it’s not the weight that matters, it’s the dimensions,” explains Grigory Bashkirev. – Loading through the ramp allows the whole bulk of the boost rocket to be placed inside the aircraft.