South Korea Launches First Rocket Into Space

South Korea's space program suffered a blow Tuesday after a satellite launched from its first space rocket failed to reach proper orbit, a science official said.

South Koreans at a railway station in Seoul watch the launch of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 Tuesday.

"All aspects of the launch were normal, but the satellite exceeded its planned orbit and reached an altitude of 360 kilometers," said Ahn Byung-man, the minister of science and technology. The satellite should have separated at about 302 kilometers, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

South Korea's first rocket launch Tuesday failed to push a satellite into its orbit but the flawed mission may still anger rival North Korea, coming just months after the communist nation's own launch drew international condemnation.

The failure dealt a blow to Seoul's quest to become a regional space power. It comes against the complex backdrop of relations on the Korean peninsula — and recent signs that months of heightened tension over the North's nuclear program may be easing.