SEOUL - South Korea launched its first space rocket carrying a science satellite on Wednesday amid heightened regional tensions, caused in part, by North Korea's successful launch of its own rocket last month.

It was South Korea's third attempt to launch a civilian rocket to send a satellite in orbit in the past four years and came after two previous launches were aborted at the eleventh hour last year due to technical glitches.

The launch vehicle, named Naro, lifted off from South Korea's space center on the south coast and successfully went through stage separation before entering orbit, officials at the mission control said. Previous launches failed within minutes.

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