South Korea has launched a space rocket in its third attempt and the officials in Seoul have said that the liftoff was successful.

Seoul's attempt was a bid to join the elite space club of 12 other countries, which have launched a rocket from its own soil.

Seoul's Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1,) locally known as Naro, blasted off around 16:00 local time (7am GMT) as scheduled. No problems have been encountered so far.

However, the exact details of the launch will be available in the coming hours.

"The launch of the rocket itself succeeded. Whether the entire mission of deploying the satellite into proper orbit was successful will be determined later in the day," a space official told Yonhap news agency.

Ahead of the launch of the 170-tonne rocket, Roh Kyeong-won, the head of the space ministry's strategic technology development bureau said, "The Launch Preparation Committee, which was convened from 11 this morning, has decided, after reviewing the status of Naro, weather conditions and conditions in space to go ahead with the launch at 4 PM."

The officials have noted that weather did not pose a problem. The launch site is located 480 kms south of Seoul.

The rehearsal, which was conducted on the eve of the launch day, had gone smooth without any glitches. Two earlier liftoffs in 2009 and in 2010 ended in failure.

The third launch was originally scheduled to take place by the end of last year but it was delayed due to defective parts.

The Naro program has been jointly developed by South Korea and Russia which will come to an end later in 2013. The joint venture was initiated in 2002. Reports suggest Seoul has so far invested around $471 million (£299 million) in this space program during the last decade.

The first stage of the 108-foot-tall rocket was built in Russia while the upper stage was built in South Korea. South has sent around 10 satellites into space however all of them were launched from outside the country.

Seoul's launch has also come at a time when tensions are running high in the Korean peninsula. South's adversary North Korea has successfully launched a space satellite on 12 December prompting severe condemnation.

The US and South had dubbed Pyongyang's launch was a disguise for its ballistic missile test.