A South Korean navy ship on Friday recovered what is believed to be debris from a rocket that apparently blew up shortly after liftoff, as experts tried to find the cause of the latest setback to Seoul's space ambitions.
The rocket carrying an observation satellite to study global warming and climate change likely exploded 137 seconds into its flight on Thursday and is believed to have fallen into the sea some 292 miles south of the space center.
The South Korean navy plans to deliver the recovered parts to the country's state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute for analysis, said Pyun Kyung-bum, a spokesman of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
He also said South Korea will closely consult with Russia in picking up other fragments. The first stage of the Naro rocket was designed and built by Russia and the second by South Korea.
The two countries plan to quickly form a joint committee to determine the cause of the failure and discuss whether to launch a third rocket, according to the ministry.
The blastoff at the coastal space center in Goheung, 290 miles south of Seoul, was the country's second launch of a rocket from its territory.
In the first attempt last August, the satellite failed to reach orbit because one of its two covers apparently did not come off after liftoff. The rocket on which it was carried functioned normally, so South Korea saw that launch as a partial success.
Since 1992, South Korea has launched 11 satellites from overseas sites, all on foreign-made rockets.
Thursday's launch was delayed a day because fire retardant suddenly sprayed Wednesday from three nozzles set up near the launch pad to extinguish any blaze.
Education, Science and Technology Minister Ahn Byong-man said Thursday that South Korea will begin preparations to announce a new launch date as soon as the cause of the latest failure is determined.