South Korea opened its first space launch station — the Naro Space Centre at Goheung, south of Seoul – on 11 June 2009.

The $248.6m centre features a state-of-the-art mission director centre, launch and flight safety control facilities, a launch pad and a meteorological observatory.

The 5.11-million-square-metre centre is fitted with both radar and optical tracking systems to follow the trajectory of all launched rockets.

The nation will see its first domestic satellite launch on 30 July 2009 with the launch of Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) or Naro-1.

Work will begin on building KSLV-2 that may be launched in 2018 after the first launch.

Naro Space Centre president Lee Myung-bak said that Korea must accelerate its space technology efforts to become the world’s seventh largest space developer within the decade.

To date, Korea has launched about ten satellites from foreign soil, most of them from Russia.