UK & World News
South Korea's First Satellite Blasts Off
South Korea has launched a satellite into space from its own soil for the first time - just weeks after arch-rival North Korea accomplished a similar feat.
The rocket blasted off from a launch pad in the southwestern coastal village of Goheung.
Officials told cheering spectators minutes later that the rocket delivered an observational satellite into orbit.
It is unclear whether the satellite is operating as intended.
The launch is a culmination of years of efforts by South Korea - Asia's fourth-largest economy - to advance its space programme and cement its standing as a technology leader.
North Korea's long-range rocket program has generated international fears that it is getting closer to developing nuclear missiles capable of striking enemies.
It has threatened to explode its third nuclear device, after tough new international sanctions were imposed over its December 12 rocket launch.
Washington and Seoul said North Korea's launch was a cover for a test of Pyongyang's banned ballistic missile technology.
South Korea tried and failed to launch satellites in 2009 and 2010, and more recent launch attempts were aborted at the last minute.
The satellite launched by Seoul is designed to analyse weather data, measure radiation in space, gauge distances on earth and test how effectively South Korean-made devices installed on the satellite operate in space.
South Korean officials said it will help them develop more sophisticated satellites in the future.
US experts says the North's satellite is tumbling through space and said it does not appear to be functioning, though Pyongyang has said it is working.
The South Korean rocket launched on Wednesday was partially designed and built by Russian experts under a contract between the two governments.
North Korea built its rocket almost entirely on its own.