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South Korea rocket launch halted by leaky seal

Third time must be the charm for South Korea, which has failed twice before and faces narrow deadline.

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South Korea launches a rocket from Naro space center on August 25, 2009 in Goheung, South Korea. (Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images)

A leak in the Russian-made booster forced South Korean scientists to halt the launch of a rocket it hoped to send into space on Friday.

The call to abandon the launch came five hours before scheduled liftoff, Reuters reported.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute had twice tried to launch a satellite into space.

This latest failure – a helium leak in the first-stage rocket – will take about three days to repair, Reuters said.

“If the problem is serious, we may not be able to launch in the current window (October 26-31),” KARI president Kim Seung-jo told Reuters.

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South Korea is eager to launch a rocket into space, following successful attempts by China, Japan and India, according to AFP.

The country’s two previous attempts came in 2009 and 2010, the news agency said.

The rocket reached orbit in 2009, but couldn’t deploy a satellite. The next year, it exploded two minutes after liftoff.

Russia and South Korea blame each other for the catastrophic failure.

The rocket’s first stage is Russian built, with the second stage made in South Korea.

South Korea has spent an estimated $474 billion (520 billion won) on its space program, The Telegraph reported.

This is the final attempt for this class of rocket, with plans already underway to build a new type of rocket capable of carrying a heavier satellite into space, according to The Telegraph.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/121026/south-korea-rocket-launch-halted-leaky-seal