South Korea launches first commercial-grade satellite, as North Korea plans first spy satellite

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has launched a commercial-grade satellite for the first time as part of its growing space development program, as rival North Korea is pushing to place its first military spy satellite into orbit. The domestically built three-stage Nuri rocket lifted off from a launch facility on a southern island with a payload of eight satellites, including a main commercial-grade satellite whose mission is to verify radar imaging technology and observe cosmic radiation in a near-Earth orbit. South Korean officials plan to announce the results of the launch later Thursday. The successful launch boosted South Korea’s hopes of catching up with Asian neighbors such as China, Japan and India in a regional space race.