June 10, 2010 - Naro Space Center. The Korea Space Launch Vehicle, or KSLV 1, blasted off from the Naro Space Center at 0801 GMT (4:01 am EDT), or at 5:01 pm local time. The rocket flew through a nearly transparent deck of clouds about a minute after liftoff. Live video from the space center showed no signs of any problems during the early moments of the launch, but officials with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) say they lost contact with the rocket 137 seconds into the flight. At that point, the booster should have been flying between 40 and 50 miles in altitude on the power of a Russian first stage built by Khrunichev, the contractor in charge of the workhorse Proton launcher. Some Korean news reports say the rocket appears to have exploded and crashed as controllers lost communications with the booster. Nearly 375000 pounds of thrust from the Russian-made first stage RD-151 engine was supposed to propel the 108-foot-tall rocket more than 100 miles above the East China Sea in less than four minutes. The KSLV's nose cone was expected to separate 215 seconds after liftoff. Khrunichev built the kerosene-burning first stage and lended expertise in construction of the Naro launch pad and control center under a 2004 contract signed with KARI. After pulling free of the first stage, the Korean second stage was programmed to coast for nearly three minutes before firing its solid motor for a 58-second burn to inject the flight's 219-pound payload into orbit. The ...