South Korea loses contact with rocket immediately after launch

That's not a happy rocket-launch picture. South Korea lost contact with its Naro-1 rocket right after launch, and the Koreans believe it exploded at 43 miles. The Koreans were attempting to launch a scientific satellite to cope with climate change.

According to AFP:

South Korea was trying to join an exclusive club currently numbering nine nations that have put a satellite into orbit using a domestically assembled rocket. Its first attempt failed last August when fairings on the nose cone of the Naro-1 did not open properly so that the satellite could be released. Spectators waving national flags jumped and danced jubilantly as they watched the blast-off from the Naro Space Centre on the south coast at 5.01pm (4.01pm, Singapore time).

But engineers lost all contact after 137 seconds when the rocket was at an altitude of 70 kilometres (43 miles) and officials later said it appeared to have exploded. The scientific satellite had been due to separate from the rocket at an altitude of 302 kilometres and to deploy its solar panels about nine minutes after blast-off. 'I cannot definitely say now but there appears to have been a problem with the first stage of the rocket,' Lee Jae-Woo, a space expert at Seoul's Konkuk University, told YTN television. 'Imperfect combustion can be seen.'

Image by AFP/Getty Images.