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Minister: South Korea rocket apparently blew up

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Contact with launched rocket lost
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: South Korea looking into trying again
  • Rocket apparently blew up 137 seconds after liftoff, minister says
  • Contact with rocket lost after launch
  • Rocket was carrying satellite to study climate change
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(CNN) -- A South Korean rocket apparently blew up just over two minutes after launch, a government minister said Thursday.

The Naro-1 space rocket apparently exploded 137 seconds after it lifted off from a space center on the country's south coast, said Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ahn Byong-man, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute earlier said it lost contact with the rocket eight minutes after liftoff.

But the science minister said "an inboard camera detected a bright flash of light at 137 seconds into the flight, which coincides exactly with the loss of communication with the two-stage rocket," according to Yonhap. The rocket was carrying a satellite to study climate change.

South Korea is talking to the Russians who made the first-stage rocket in an effort to determine why it exploded, he said. South Korea made the second-stage rocket and the satellite, according to Yonhap.

Thursday's failed launch was the second attempt. A Naro-1 launch in August went as planned, but did not put a satellite into orbit because of a malfunction.

"Talks are underway for a third launch of the rocket," Ahn added, saying that the original contract provided for a third try if the first two failed to put a satellite into orbit.

Thursday's launch at the Naro Space Center, 465 kilometers (about 300 miles) south of Seoul, was the country's second from its own soil.

The launch was initially scheduled for Wednesday, but was scrapped after the firefighting equipment in the rocket malfunctioned.