Archive for the ‘Rocket Tests’ Category

Unha 3-2 rocket compendium

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

On December 12, 2012 the DPRK announced the lunch of Unha 3-2, the second launch of 2012. I have posted a collection of information below. The Wikipedia page is here. Orbital info here and here.


UPDATE 26 (2013-2-27): The DPRK has formally registered its “satellite” with the UN. According to KCNA:

DPRK’s Satellite Officially Registered at UN

Pyongyang, February 27 (KCNA) — The DPRK presented its paper for the registration of its satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 at the UN as a signatory to the “Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space” after its successful launch on December 12, Juche 101 (2012).

Recently the UN Space Office worked out UN official document (ST/SG/SER. E/662) as regards the registration of the DPRK’s satellite and posted it on the satellite registry of its website and the UN electronic archives website respectively. This brought to an end the work for registering the DPRK’s satellite launched after going through a legitimate procedure according to international law concerned.

Martyn Williams has more.

UPDATE 25 (2013-2-22): Markus Schiller’s Analysis of North Korea’s Unha-3 Launcher.

UPDATE 24 (2013-2-14): 38 North on new developments at the Tonghae launch site.

UPDATE 23 (2013-2-12): KCNA:

Political Bureau of WPK Central Committee Meets

Pyongyang, February 12 (KCNA) — A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) took place here on Monday.

Present there were members of the Presidium, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK.

The meeting adopted a decision “On marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as grand festivals of victors”.

The decision emphasized the need to further deepen and accomplish the sacred cause of holding in high esteem the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il as eternal leaders of the WPK and the revolution.

The decision called for splendidly and significantly organizing political events marking the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War and the 65th anniversary of the DPRK.

According to it, various political events will be held with splendor to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War. They will include a parade of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), mass demonstration of Pyongyang citizens, grand mass gymnastic and artistic performance “Arirang” and army-people joint meeting with war veterans.

The decision stressed the need to successfully rebuild the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and spruce up the revolutionary battle sites, revolutionary sites and revolutionary museums including the revolutionary museum at Kim Il Sung University, the Museum of the Fatherland Liberation War and the Jonsung Revolutionary Museum.

It called for newly building a martyrs cemetery of the KPA in Pyongyang and sprucing up KPA martyrs cemeteries and monuments to the fallen fighters of the KPA in various parts of the country.

It underlined the need to resolutely foil all the hostile forces’ moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK by achieving proud victory in building an economic power and improving the people’s living standard.

It also underscored the need for all fields and units to do a lot of good works for the prosperity of the country and its people’s happiness on the occasion of the 65th birthday of the Republic.

It called for staging an all-out action of high intensity for reliably protecting the security and sovereignty of the country in view of the prevailing grave situation and marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War with fresh achievements in bolstering up capability for self-defence.

It stressed the need to continue launching satellites of Kwangmyongsong series and powerful long-range rockets.

It called on the KPA to keep itself fully ready for combat and put maximum spurs to rounding off its combat preparedness in order to bolster up one-beats-a hundred combat capability. It stressed that once an order is issued, the KPA should blow up the stronghold of aggression at a strike and wipe out the brigandish U.S. imperialists and south Korean puppet army to the last man and thus accomplish the historic cause of national reunification.

The decision called for sincerely helping the army and significantly conducting the work for putting forward and preferentially treating the war veterans and wartime merited persons as a social movement on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the war victory.

It underscored the need to give further spurs to building a highly civilized socialist nation.

It referred to the tasks for completing the preparations for the universal 12-year compulsory education within this year, establishing a medical information service network and telemedicine system, building a children’s hospital, a dental hospital and a recovery center and winding up the first phase project for updating the Hungnam Pharmaceutical Factory.

It also underscored the need to build a modern combined center for sports trainings and different kinds of mass sporting facilities and raise hot wind of sports throughout the country.

It called for face-lifting the central part of Pyongyang and building more modern cultural facilities including pleasure grounds and Munsu Wading Pool.

The decision stressed the need to arouse all compatriots to the struggle for resolutely foiling the anti-DPRK moves and “sanctions” racket of the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet group of traitors and thoroughly implementing the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration so as to open up a new phase for national reunification.

It called for conducting external activities to grandly celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a common event for the anti-imperialist independent forces and the world progressive people.

More in the NY Times here.

UPDATE 22 (2013-1-22): UNSC adopts resolution in response to DPRK rocket launch. According to Reuters:

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously condemned North Korea’s December rocket launch and expanded existing U.N. sanctions, eliciting a vow from Pyongyang to boost the North’s military and nuclear capabilities.

Even though the resolution approved by the 15-nation council does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, diplomats said Beijing’s support for it was a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.

The resolution said the council “deplores the violations” by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for these programs.

It also said the council “expresses its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK (North Korean) launch or nuclear test.”

North Korea reacted quickly, saying it would hold no more talks on the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and would boost its military and nuclear capabilities.

“We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

Six-party talks aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear program have involved North Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. They have been held intermittently since 2003 but have stalled since 2008.

South Korea says the North is technically ready for a third nuclear test, and satellite images show it is actively working on its nuclear site.

The U.N. resolution added six North Korean entities, including Pyongyang’s space agency, the Korean Committee for Space Technology, and the man heading it, Paek Chang-ho, to an already existing U.N. blacklist.


The firms and individuals will all face an international asset freeze, while Paek and the others blacklisted by Tuesday’s resolution – the manager of the rocket launch center and two North Korean banking officials – will face a global travel ban.

In addition to the space agency, the council blacklisted the Bank of East Land, Korea Kumryong Trading Corp., Tosong Technology Trading Corp., Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corp., and Leader (Hong Kong) International. The last, based in Hong Kong, is the North’s main arms dealer, the resolution said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed the resolution, describing it as introducing “new sanctions” against North Korea. “This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions,” she said.

Other diplomats, however, said on condition of anonymity that saying the measures in Tuesday’s resolution were new sanctions would be an exaggeration.

China said on Monday that the Security Council needed to pass a cautious resolution on North Korea, adding that this was the best way to ensure regional tensions did not escalate further.

Several diplomats said Beijing’s decision to back the resolution sent a strong message to Pyongyang.

“It might not be much, but the Chinese move is significant,” a council diplomat told Reuters. “The prospect of a (new) nuclear test might have been a game changer (for China).”

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option.

China is the North’s only major diplomatic ally, although it agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea’s 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

December’s successful long-range rocket launch, the first to put a satellite in orbit, was a coup for North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un.

North and South Korea are still technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

UPDATE 21 (2013-1-21): According to the BBC, the Unha 3-2 was manufactured domestically:

South Korean military and space experts salvaged 10 pieces of the rocket which it shed into the sea as it took off, including its first-stage engine, and its fuel and oxidiser tanks.

In its report, the South Korean Defence Ministry said: “North Korea is believed to have made a majority of components itself, although it used commercially available products imported from overseas.”

The BBC’s Lucy Williamson in the South Korean capital, Seoul, says this will be unwelcome news to many countries as they consider what the military applications of such technical ability could be.

Such rockets are technically similar to intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could reach the United States, she adds.

Here is a photo from the report. Here is more on the report.

UPDATE 20 (2013-1-18): China will not block further UNSC action. According to Bloomberg:

China’s apparent decision not to block expanded United Nations sanctions against North Korea for its satellite-cum-missile launch last month is good, if mysterious, news. Good, because China has traditionally resisted punishing North Korea for its misdeeds, arguing that engagement is more likely to bring results. Mysterious, because its reasons for changing its mind could be manifold.

Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former Minister of Defense and National Security Adviser, recently speculated that North Korea went ahead with the launch as a way of “blackmailing” its ally to support it. Because the launch right before elections in South Korea and Japan would strengthen hardliners in both countries, China would feel compelled to support North Korea in response. As Koike put it, “In Kim [Jong Un’s] perverse logic, a new push for UN sanctions, and new security-conscious governments in Japan and South Korea, will strengthen North Korea’s hold on Chinese foreign policy.”

China’s decision suggests that Kim may have miscalculated. It could also mean, though, that the Chinese are worried that North Korea is getting increasingly hard to control, and that we should gird ourselves for more bad behavior — like, say, a third nuclear test. Its second nuclear detonation took place in May 2009 — shortly after its April 2009 launch of a rocket had been condemned by the UN Security Council.

The sanctions currently in place could use some tightening, starting with better implementation. In that respect, China’s decision to go along — or at least not stand in the way — represents a diplomatic victory for President Barack Obama’s administration. But past experiences with the North Koreans suggest that such measures rarely yield the desired result.

Yonhap has more here.

UPDATE 19 (2013-1-18): Marcus Noland has pictures of new stamps featuring the Unha rockets.

UPDATE 18 (2013-1-14): Japan plans to expand bilateral sanctions.

UPDATE 17 (2012-12-25): Martyn Williams has video of the satellite orbiting earth.

UPDATE 16 (2012-12-24): The Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea gave a grand banquet at the Mokran House on Friday in honor of scientists, technicians, workers and officials who made a contribution to the successful lift-off of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2. See the video here.

UPDATE 15 (2012-12-21): North Korea to become strong in science and technology by year 2022
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea is claiming its recent satellite launch on December 12, 2012 was part of a five-year plan for the development of science and technology.

According to the Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper, the launchings of the Kwangmyongsong-2 and -3 satellites are directly related to the third Five-Year Plan for the development of science and technology. The paper also emphasized that the ultimate goal was to make North Korea a science and technology powerhouse by the year 2022.

The news summarized an article written by Professor Lim Jong-Hyuk of the Chongryon-affiliated Chosun University in Japan, explaining that the third Five-Year Plan for the development of science and technology began from 2008, making this year the last year of the plan.

According to Lim, this plan was created in order to solve the food shortage and improve the livelihoods of the North Korean people through the development of science and technology, including major research in information technology (IT), biotechnology (BT), and nanotechnology (NT) as well as energy development, nuclear technology, space technology, marine technology, and laser and plasma technology.

The professor claimed the recent launch was a part of this Five-Year Plan as the development of the space technology sector included the development of ultra-compact satellite and introduction of GPS (global positioning system) and GIS (geographic information system).

He further explained the first Five-Year Plan for science and technology development began in 1998. The initial goal of that plan was to solve the problem of science and technology necessary for the reconstruction of important sectors of the North Korean economy.  At the same time, it sought to make pioneering efforts into new fields of science and technology, including IT, space technology, and marine science.

The second plan, which began in 2003, focused on introducing and developing basic sciences, such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to modernize major sectors of the economy.

However, some are refuting the claims of Professor Lim, saying that the first plan began in 2003 and not in 1998.  Ri Mun Ho, the Director of (DPRK) National Academy of Sciences, stated in a June 2006 interview with Choson Sinbo that Kim Jong Il made a field visit to the Hamheung Branch of the National Academy of Sciences in March 1999, directing for a five-year plan for the science and technology sector.

Some speculate that this is a deliberate misreporting of the starting date of the first plan to coincide with the 1998 rocket launch, North Korea’s self-proclaimed first attempt at putting an experimental satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-1, into space.

In the same interview, Ri explained that since 2004, North Korea began to install various economic management institutions in the Cabinet and other central government agencies to develop the research in science and technology sectors, since such was considered to be linked directly to the country’s economic development.

UPDATE 14 (2012-12-18): The DPRK’s satellite appears to be wobbling on its orbit which makes some wonder if the DPRK has control over it. According to the Los Angeles Times:

Is North Korea’s satellite dead in orbit? Launched last week, the spacecraft seems to be tumbling overhead, according to astronomers keeping track of the device.

“At this stage I’m getting a bit skeptical,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in an interview. “I would start to be mildly surprised if the satellite is really working.”

Retired astronomer Greg Roberts in Cape Town, South Africa, measured the light coming from the satellite orbiting roughly 300 miles above the Earth’s surface and found that it seems to grow bright and dim by turns, indicating that it’s spinning as it flies through space, McDowell said. If the satellite were working, it probably wouldn’t spin — it would have to keep the one side of its body with its camera pointed consistently at Earth.

What’s more, trackers looking for the patriotic songs that were supposed to be broadcast from the satellite have yet to pick up the signal, he added.

But the mere fact that the spacecraft made it to orbit is probably success enough for North Korean leaders, McDowell said.

“In any case, they have joined the club of space-faring nations,” McDowell said. “That is the main point for them, for this launch.”

UPDATE 13 (2012-12-17): Jeffrey Lewis has analysis on the construction of the rocket here.

UPDATE 12 (2012-12-14): The Daily NK reports on the DPRK’s media effort to tie the successful launch with Kim Jong-un.

UPDATE 11 (2012-12-14): Kim Jong-un visits the Sohae Space Center (서해위성발사장, Tongchang-ri):

UPDATE 10 (2012-12-14): The DPRK holds mass rally in support of the rocket launch.

UPDATE 9 (2012-12-14): NPR explores the relationship between the DPRK’s and Iran’s rocket programs:

U.S. officials say the satellite put into orbit by North Korea’s rocket launch this week is wobbling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the launch itself was unsuccessful.

U.S. analysts say the North Koreans’ main goal was not to put a satellite into orbit, but just to see all three stages of their rocket work, to show that the rocket could carry its payload a long distance. That it did. In the last test, in April, the first rocket stages worked as designed, but the third stage failed. Charles Vick, a missile expert at, credits the North Koreans with learning from their past mistakes.

“They have demonstrated not merely an ability to identify problems, but to resolve those problems and get the total system to work together, all three stages working as a single launch vehicle,” he said.

So, the North Koreans are making progress.

Next question: What, if anything, did this launch mean for Iran?

Iran denies missile ties.

UPDATE 8 (2012-12-13): Evan Ramstad writes in the Wall Street Journal’s Korea Real Time:

North Korea’s rocket shot on Wednesday may have been the greatest success it has yet had in a decades-long effort to develop the technology for long range missiles. But there’s also less to it than meets the eye.

A technical report published by the Rand Corporation in September concludes that the threat posed by North Korea’s missile program is not as significant as widely portrayed. It says the main driver the North Korea regime is political: “to create the impression of a serious missile threat and thereby gain strategic leverage, fortify the North Korean regime’s domestic power, and deter other countries, particularly the Republic of Korea and the United States, from military action.”

The author of the study, Markus Schiller, a missile expert at Schmucker Technologie in Germany, said in an e-mail interview that Wednesday’s launch doesn’t change his conclusions about the North’s missile capabilities or intentions.

“There is no need to reconsider any conclusions or recommendations of the report,” he said. He noted this is the country’s only success of long-range technology from five launches over nearly 15 years and was a “rocket that uses old Russian engines.”

“I would say that a North Korean cargo ship, or an airliner from Koryo Air, is more dangerous,” he added, referring to the North’s state-run airline. “If they wanted an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile], they have to develop a new rocket, using different technology. This would take a very long time, require a lot of work, and cost a lot of money.”

He said the rocket that North Korea launched on Wednesday is not powerful enough to carry a nuclear warhead very far. Its satellite payload may have only weighed 100 kilograms (220 pounds), while a warhead would be five to seven times heavier. “The whole rocket’s performance is too low to be used as an ICBM, even in three stage configuration,” he said.

Using the Soviet-era technology that was the basis for the rocket fired on Wednesday, Mr. Schiller estimates North Korea would need to build a rocket that’s two to three times larger to hit the U.S. The alternative, he said, is to use different technology and more efficient propellants. “But this is a completely new rocket,” he said.

He added that North Korea also needs to demonstrate that it can design complex warheads that can withstand the heat and acceleration that an ICBM goes through when it re-enters the atmosphere.

In his paper for Rand, Mr. Schiller recommends that policymakers in other countries not get overly concerned about the North’s missile tests. “Don’t elevate the North Korean threat,” he wrote. “This is exactly what the North Korean regime wants.”

That has sparked some criticism from with other analysts and North Korea watchers. But even the most hawkish analysts say that North Korea is far from posing a real danger with its long-range missiles.

Bruce Bechtol, a former U.S. military intelligence analyst who now teaches at Angelo State University in Texas, said that North Korea has several hurdles to overcome, including miniaturizing a warhead and deploying its long-range missiles in a way that can’t be detected. “It takes several days for them to set it up,” he said. “If see them setting it up, we could take it out.”

And he noted that, if North Korea wants want to sell the technology to countries like Iran, they’ll face difficulties shipping parts by sea and air. “They still have several issues,” Mr. Bechtol said.

UPDATE 7 (2012-12-13): Here are additional articles in KCNA:

Kim Jong Un Observes Satellite Launch Processes

Pyongyang, December 13 (KCNA) — The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), first chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, gave a final written order regarding the launch of the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 to the Korean Committee of Space Technology at 8 a.m. on December 12, 2012.

He visited the General Satellite Control and Command Center at 9 a.m., one hour before the launch.

Kim Jong Un learned about the preparations for the launch and issued an order on the launch and keenly observed the whole processes of the launch.

Kim Jong Un expressed great satisfaction over the successful launch of the satellite by our scientists and technicians and highly estimated their feats. He extended thanks to them in the name of the WPK Central Committee.

The second version of scientific and technological satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 is Juche satellite in every aspect as it was developed and manufactured by the DPRK with its own strength, technology and wisdom, he said, saying with pleasure that successful and accurate entry of the satellite into its pole-to-pole trajectory further consolidated the status of the DPRK as a space power and demonstrated that the country has reached the highest level in terms of cutting-edge science and technology.

The successful launch of the satellite served as an occasion that showed at home and abroad the unshakable stand of the WPK and the DPRK government to exercise the country’s legitimate right to use space for peaceful purposes and to develop the country’s science, technology and economy, he noted.

The launch was successful even though it was made in the winter time when difficult scientific and technological problems arise, he said, adding that this is a proud victory that demonstrated the high level the country’s science and technology have reached.

He stressed the need to continue to launch satellites in the future, too, to develop the country’s science, technology and economy.

Underscoring the need to bring about a fresh turn in scientific researches into space and satellite launch field based on the successful launch of the second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, he set forth important tasks for doing so.

He repeatedly spoke highly of the ardent loyalty and patriotic devotion made by scientists and technicians who greatly contributed to strikingly displaying the might of science and technology of Juche Korea to the world and had a photo session with them.

He was accompanied by Jang Song Thaek, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK and vice-chairman of the NDC, and Pak To Chun, member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the WPK Central Committee.

DPRK’s Satellite Launch Represents Its Sci-Tech Development

Pyongyang, December 13 (KCNA) — The successful launch of another satellite in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea represented the nation’s sci-tech development and economic potentials.

Pak Chang Sop, a section chief of the IT Institute of Kim Il Sung University, told KCNA:

“The successful launch showcased the overall might of Songun Korea, and it is a great auspicious event of the nation that significantly adorned this year.

The success reminds me of the tireless efforts made by Generalissimo Kim Jong Il for the development of the national science. I would like to extend heartfelt greetings to the space scientists who implemented his behests.”

Pang Kwon Yong, an engineer of the Korean Computer Centre, said:

“The recent successful launch of satellite, a complex of science and technology, displayed again the might of the DPRK as a full-fledged satellite launcher.”

Kim Myong Chol, a researcher of the Central Meteorological Institute, said:

“The success is attributable to the policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea on giving importance to science.

The working satellite, launched this time, will be greatly conducive to our work as it is an earth observation one.”

DPRK Has Earth Observation Technology: Scientist

Pyongyang, December 13 (KCNA) — The DPRK successfully launched the second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 on Wednesday.

In this regard, KCNA met Kim Hye Jin, a section chief of the General Satellite Control and Command Center.

Kim said:

“The second version is an earth observation satellite going round the sun-synchronous orbit.

As such kind of satellite requires ultra modern technologies, many countries launch satellites atop others’ carrier rockets.

We found out shortcomings in April’s failed satellite launch and solved them.

Those opposed to the DPRK’s development of space science would be surprised by its successful satellite launch.

The DPRK’s satellite launch is aimed to attain the technology for earth observation with its own satellites. Unlike the satellites launched in the past, the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 is viewed as the start of the stage in which satellites are actually used for the progress of the national economy. Its successful launch helps the DPRK fully gain up-to-date communications technology as well as earth observation technology.”

DPRK’s Satellite Enters Its Preset Orbit: Scientist

Pyongyang, December 13 (KCNA) — On Wednesday, journalists covered the details of the launch of the second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 at the General Satellite Control and Command Center on the outskirts of Pyongyang City.

On the first hand, they watched videos on the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province, carrier rocket Unha-3 with a satellite atop and its flight.

The videos also included technical indices on flight track, the scene of the satellite launch and its entry into the orbit.

Kim Hye Jin, 44, a section chief of the center, told KCNA:

“We confirmed that the satellite was separated from the three-stage rocket.

The satellite is now airing ‘Song of General Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Song of General Kim Jong Il’. We are sure our technology of putting satellite into orbit is flawless. I think those countries developed in space science and technology can not but acknowledge it in view of our satellite flight track.”

UPDATE 6 (2012-12-13): Everybody was apparently caught off guard by the launch. According to the Choson Ilbo:

South Korea, the U.S. and Japan were apparently taken wholly by surprise when North Korea launched a rocket on Wednesday. The three countries had concluded only on Tuesday that there was no chance that the launch would take place this week or even this month.

Only a few days earlier, North Korea announced that a technical glitch had been detected and the launch window would have to be extended until Dec. 29

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers he did not know that the launch would go ahead. Military officials here detected activity at the launch site on Tuesday afternoon and reported it to Cheong Wa Dae, but apparently failed to identify signs of an imminent launch.

Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said Tokyo confirmed that North Korea removed the rocket from its launch pad on Tuesday and had started to disassemble it for repairs.

South Korea and Japan had apparently reached the conclusion based on photos taken by U.S. spy satellites.

“Military authorities may have been careless in preparing for a North Korean launch by simply trusting the North Korean announcement,” said one retired general here.

“We were fooled by North Korea because of weaknesses in intelligence gathering and faulty judgment,” he added.

And according to CNN:

“We had our dukes up, operationally, but we were caught off guard,” the official said.

“The clues point to a concerted effort to deceive us,” the official said. The analysis was ordered in the wake of the launch to determine what exactly happened and how much the U.S. intelligence knew at the time.

The official said one conclusion was that while missile defenses can fully protect against a North Korean attack, the North Koreans have shown they can counter U.S. measures to gather intelligence about what they are up to.

“Look, they know when our satellites are passing overhead,” the official said. It’s believed the North Koreans essentially manipulated the launch so U.S. intelligence satellites simply would not be overhead and able to see what was happening.

The most likely scenario, the official said, was that North Korea wasn’t telling the truth when it announced several days before the launch that there were technical problems with the missile.

According to the official, the intelligence analysis found that:

– The United States observed the North Koreans beginning to take apart the three-stage rocket and move parts of it away from the launch pad, then observed what were believed to be so-called replacement parts being moved in.

– In retrospect, those parts appear to have been from a second, older-generation long-range missile that were in storage. Those parts most likely were never used in the December 12 launch.

During this time, when the United States did not have total visibility of the launch site, it’s believed the North Koreans either quickly reassembled the original rocket and fired it.

– It’s also possible the U.S. miscalculated and the North Koreans never took it apart at all.

Earlier this week, South Korean defense officials warned that the latest North Korean missile had the capability to travel more than 6,000 miles, meaning this type of rocket could strike the United States. However, experts do not believe Pyongyang has a nuclear warhead small enough to fly on the kind of missile.

The South Koreans have also noticed that the DPRK has beaten them into space.

UPDATE 5 (2012-12-12): The White House has issued a formal response to the rocket launch:

Statement from NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on North Korea’s Missile Launch

North Korea’s launch today—using ballistic missile technology despite express prohibitions by United Nations Security Council resolutions—is a highly provocative act that threatens regional security, directly violates United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, contravenes North Korea’s international obligations, and undermines the global non-proliferation regime. This action is yet another example of North Korea’s pattern of irresponsible behavior. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region. Given this current threat to regional security, the United States will strengthen and increase our close coordination with allies and partners.

On April 16, 2012, the United Nations Security Council expressed its “determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further [North Korean] launch.” In the hours and days ahead, the United States will work with its Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue appropriate action. The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences. The international community continues to insist that North Korea live up to its commitments, adhere to its international obligations, and deal peacefully with its neighbors.

North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in such provocative acts. Devoting scarce resources to the development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons has not brought it security and acceptance by the international community—and never will. North Korea will only truly strengthen itself by abiding by international norms, living up to its commitments and international obligations, and working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbors.

UPDATE 4 (2012-12-12): Uriminzokkiri post video of rocket launch:

This video explains the launch from inside the rocket control center:


UPDATE 3 (2013-12-12): Scott Snyder on the DPRK’s rocket launch:

The task of responding to North Korea’s apparently successful satellite launch poses an immediate challenge to North Korea’s neighbors, each of which are in the middle of leadership transitions. The impending UN Security Council debate will come as an early test for China’s new leadership under Xi Jinping and as evidence that China’s comprehensive engagement strategy with North Korea has failed to restrain North Korean provocations. Since China’s overriding objectives toward North Korea remain stability and crisis avoidance, China will remain the main obstacle to any significantly punitive international response. It is likely only to agree to yet another ineffective UN presidential statement condemning the launch, resisting efforts to expand sanctions against North Korea.

North Korea’s satellite comes days before Japanese and South Korean voters go to the polls, raising the likelihood that national security will be on the minds of voters in both countries. LDP leader and likely next Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe led the country’s strong response to North Korea’s 2006 rocket launch. His efforts resulted in the first UN resolution to criticize North Korean missile tests UN Security Council resolution 1695. South Korea has faced a long tradition of North Korean provocative actions designed to influence South Korean election outcomes, but it is unclear how a satellite launch could tilt South Korea’s electoral result in the North’s favor. The North has publicly opposed conservative candidate Park Geun-hye, but it is hard to say how a satellite launch helps opposition candidate Moon Jae-in or others who advocate a fast-track for reconciliation with the North.

UPDATE 2 (2013-12-12): The DPRK has apparently concluded is first successful “satellite” launch. According to KCNA:

DPRK Succeeds in Satellite Launch

Pyongyang, December 12 (KCNA) — The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday.

The satellite entered its preset orbit.

and here…

KCNA Releases Report on Satellite Launch

Pyongyang, December 12 (KCNA) — The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released the following report Wednesday:

Scientists and technicians of the DPRK successfully launched the second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 into its orbit by carrier rocket Unha-3, true to the last instructions of leader Kim Jong Il.

Carrier rocket Unha-3 with the second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 atop blasted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province at 09:49:46 on December 12, Juche 101(2012). The satellite entered its preset orbit at 09:59:13, 9 minutes and 27 seconds after the lift-off.

The satellite is going round the polar orbit at 499.7 km perigee altitude and 584.18 km apogee altitude at the angle of inclination of 97.4 degrees. Its cycle is 95 minutes and 29 seconds.

The scientific and technological satellite is fitted with survey and communications devices essential for the observation of the earth.

The successful launch of the satellite is a proud fruition of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s policy of attaching importance to the science and technology. It is also an event of great turn in developing the country’s science, technology and economy by fully exercising the independent right to use space for peaceful purposes.

At a time when great yearnings and reverence for Kim Jong Il pervade the whole country, its scientists and technicians brilliantly carried out his behests to launch a scientific and technological satellite in 2012, the year marking the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.

UPDATE 1 (2013-12-8): The Unha 3, 3-2 rocket launches costs as much as a year of food supplies. According to the Hankyoreh:

The Ministry of Unification estimated the cost of North Korea’s two rocket launches this year to be nearly equivalent to a year’s worth of food for the country.

An official with the ministry told reporters on Dec. 6 that North Korea had spent a total of US$1.34 billion on rocket launches since the Kim Jong-un regime took power this in April of this year.

“This is enough money to buy a year’s worth of food for North Korea [5.3 million tons of corn], and we hope North Korea will put it toward solving its peoples’ food shortage,” the official said.

The official broke down the costs into US$400 million for building the launch site in Dongchang Village, US$600 million for the two launches, US$300 million to build rocket equipment and facilities, and US$42 million for propaganda idolization of the Kim dynasty.

This comes after recent – and much higher – Ministry of National Defense estimates that North Korea spent US$1.74 billion on missile development and US$1.1 billion-1.5 billion on nuclear development for a total of US$2.8 billion-3.2 billion.

The North Korean food demand for one year is equivalent to 5.3 million tons of corn, which is valued at US$1.5 billion according to international market rates. The country’s annual food shortfall is estimated at one million tons, or about US$300 million.

By this standard, the total of US$1.34 billion would be nearly equal to the annual cost of food and enough to cover the shortfall for four to five years.

Analysts said the ministry’s aim in comparing the rocket development costs with the North Korean food situation was to highlight the immorality of the regime in Pyongyang.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-12-7): David Wright has created a Google Earth file which shows the rocket trajectory we expect from the DPRK’s fourth launch. Download the file and learn more here.


Unha 3 rocket launch compendium

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Below I have posted links and excerpts of stories related to the launch of the Unha-3 rocket in April 2012. Here is the Wikipedia page


Pictured above (Google Earth): (L) The Sohae Satellite Launching Station (AKA Tongchang-ri launch facility) in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province–site of the “Kwangmyongsong-3 launch”

UPDATE 48 (2012-5-2): The UNSC sanctions three additional DPRK organizations. See UNSC documents here, here, and here.

According to the AP (via Washington Post):

The U.N. Security Council ordered all countries Wednesday to freeze the assets of three North Korean state-owned companies to punish Pyongyang for its failed rocket launch last month.

The April 13 long-range launch, which Pyongyang called a failed attempt to put a satellite into space, violated earlier Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korea from engaging in nuclear and missile activity. The rocket broke into pieces shortly after liftoff.

The Security Council’s committee that monitors sanctions against North Korea approved the sanctions Wednesday and ordered all countries to freeze the assets of the three companies. The European Union, U.S., Japan and South Korea proposed additional entities for sanctions, but the committee acts by consensus and China, North Korea’s closest ally, only approved the three companies.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters the three companies are “very much involved in … illicit missile and nuclear programs.”

The three sanctioned companies — Green Pine Associated Corporation, the Amroggang Development Banking Corporation and The Korea Heungjin Trading Company — play a role in financing, exporting and procuring weapons, the U.S. Mission to the U.N. said in a statement.

Green Pine is responsible for about half of the arms and weapons exported by North Korea, the U.S. statement said. Amroggang Development Banking is managed by Tanchon Commercial Bank, which is “the main North Korean financial entity for sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles and goods related to the assembly and manufacturer of such weapons,” the statement added. It described Korea Heungjin as a trading company that has been used to procure an advanced digital controller with applications in missile design.

Rice said the sanctions committee also approved additional items and technology that are prohibited for transfer to or from North Korea on two key lists dealing with missiles and nuclear-related material, and approved a new work plan for the committee’s panel of experts aimed at intensifying efforts to monitor and improve the implementation of sanctions.

The Missile Technology Control Regime, a group of 34 countries, monitors the transfer of missile equipment, material and related technologies that can be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction. The Nuclear Suppliers Group comprises countries that have established export rules to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Both list items banned for export; they were last updated in 2009.

“The committee’s package of new measures constitutes a serious and credible response to North Korea’s provocation,” Rice said in a statement. “These measures will increase North Korea’s isolation and make it harder for Pyongyang to move forward with its illicit programs.”

The Security Council unanimously approved a presidential statement on April 16 strongly condemning the failed rocket launch. The council gave the sanctions committee, which includes all 15 council members, 15 days to prepare new additions for the sanctions list.

The European Union proposed about 40 additions to the sanctions and the missile and nuclear lists, and the United States, Japan and South Korea also submitted lists, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private.

China did not respond until just before the deadline Tuesday night, and approved sanctions against the three companies and updates to the two lists, the diplomats said.

It was third time in six years that the Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea. The council blacklisted eight entities — six trading companies, a bank and the General Bureau of Atomic Energy — and five individuals after North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

UPDATE 47 (2012-4-30): Reuters reports:

The United States, South Korea, Japan and European nations have submitted to the U.N. Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee lists of individuals and firms they want blacklisted after Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch, envoys said on Monday.

Earlier this month the 15-nation council strongly condemned North Korea’s April 13 rocket launch, called for adding new names to the list of those hit by existing U.N. sanctions and warned Pyongyang of further consequences if it carried out another missile launch or nuclear test.

“So far the United States, European council members, South Korea and Japan have proposed new designations ahead of tomorrow’s midnight deadline (to agree on new names),” a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear which firms and individuals the council would blacklist, assuming it reached agreement.

The Security Council imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

China, North Korea’s protector on the Security Council and a permanent veto-wielding member, also backed the council’s “presidential statement” from two weeks ago, ensuring its unanimous adoption. The statement gave the council’s North Korea sanctions committee 15 days to propose new sanctions listings.

“That deadline might be extended for a few days to give China a little more time to think about the proposed designations,” another council diplomat said. The deadline for agreement is midnight EDT on Tuesday (0400 GMT on Wednesday).

“It looks as if China won’t stand in the way of an agreement (on expanding the sanctions list) though they won’t necessarily accept adding all the proposed individuals and entities,” he added. Several other Western diplomats said they also expected China would agree to an expansion of the U.N. blacklist.

Diplomats say that if the committee can agree on adding new names to the blacklist, it will be a further sign of Beijing’s irritation with its hermit neighbor over a satellite rocket launch North Korea had been widely urged not to carry out.

The North Korea sanctions committee includes all 15 council members. It works on the basis of consensus, which means any individual council member can block agreement.

The U.N. blacklist includes individuals facing international travel bans and asset freezes, companies whose assets are to be frozen and goods that North Korea is not allowed to export or import.

The current list includes eight companies and five individuals. Under two Security Council sanctions resolutions from 2006 and 2009, North Korea is barred from importing nuclear and ballistic-missile technology, as well as luxury goods.

UPDATE 46 (2012-4-20): Global Security reports “Panetta: China Assisted North Korea Missile Program”:

This week U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said China has provided some assistance to North Korea’s missile program, possibly violating U.N. sanctions on the country.

Beijing has denied the allegations, but Panetta says that China must do more to bring North Korea to the negotiating table.

“We’ve made very clear to China that China has a responsibility here to make sure that North Korea — if they want to improve the situation with their people, if they want to become a part of the international family, if they, in fact, want to deal with the terrible issues that are confronting North Korea, there’s a way to do that,” he said. “And China ought to be urging them to engage in those kinds of diplomatic negotiations. We thought we were making some progress and suddenly we’re back at provocation.”

Beijing has long been Pyongyang’s most important backer, providing key economic support and acting as an international advocate during times when tension escalates between Pyongyang and other countries.

Mike Chinoy is a Senior Fellow at USC’s U.S.-China Institute and has traveled to North Korea 15 times. He says there are signs that despite the close ties between the two, China may be re-evaluating its relationship.

“I think Beijing has been taken aback by the North Korean decision to stage the satellite launch and by the generally tough and somewhat truculent tone that the North Koreans have adopted. It’s a problem for the Chinese, because they don’t really like what the North Koreans are doing,” Chinoy explained.

UPDATE 45 (2012-4-17):  KCNA publishes the DPRK’s denunciation of the UNSC presidential statement and announces the scrapping of the “leap day deal“. See the KCNA article here. South Korean Unification Minister, Yu Woo-ik, announced the ROK will continue humanitarian aid.

UPDATE 44 (2012-4-16): U.N. condemns North Korea rocket launch. According to the Associated Press:

The U.N.Security Council on Monday strongly condemned North Korea’s rocket launch, announced it will impose new sanctions, and warned that it will take further action if Pyongyang conducts another launch or a new nuclear test.

A presidential statement, approved by all 15 council members and read at a formal meeting, said Friday’s launch, “as well as any use of ballistic missile technology, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle, is a serious violation of U.N. resolutions.”

The Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions against North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006, and stepped up the sanctions after its second test in 2009.

The Security Council demanded Monday that North Korea halt any further launches and said Friday’s launch “has caused grave concerns in the region.”

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the current council president, said the speedy adoption of the statement “shows that the international community is united” in sending a strong message to North Korea and said its companies dealing in nuclear technology would be added to the sanctions list.

The council said it asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea to prepare new additions for the sanctions list within 15 days, and said if it doesn’t the council itself would take action within five days to expand the sanctions list.

The council expressed “its determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test,” the statement said, using the initials of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

You can read the UNSC Presidential Statement here (PDF). You can also read it on the UNSC’ press release on the topic.

The New York Times also reports:

The rocket failure had raised conjecture that the North Korean leadership might embark on a purge to assign blame. But video footage from a large military parade on Sunday in Pyongyang showed that two party officials in charge of the North’s defense industries — Pak To-chun, party secretary for munitions industries, and Ju Kyu-chang, director of the party’s department for machinery industries — were present in their military uniforms.

Another important official connected to the North’s nuclear and missile programs, Paek Se-bong, head of the country’s Second Economic Commission, retained his seat on the country’s powerful National Defense Commission.

Also on Monday, Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan that often speaks for the North’s government, said North Korea would embark on developing a rocket much bigger than the Unha-3, the rocket that disintegrated Friday a few moments after liftoff.

The Unha-3 took off from a new launching pad near the western border with China. Experts who have examined the site through satellite imagery have said it was designed for bigger rockets than the Unha-3.

See previous posts below…


Unha-2 (Kwangmyongsong 2) Compendium

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

UPDATE 7: Here is the Wikipedia Page.

UPDATE 6 (2009-4-5):  The DPRK claimed to have successfully launched its second satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-2.  (Aside: “Kwangmyongsong” means or “Lodestar” in Korean and it is a nickname officially attributed to Kim Jong il–the lodestar of the 21st centuryin a poem by his father.)

According to KCNA:

Scientists and technicians of the DPRK (North Korea) have succeeded in putting satellite Kwangmyongsong-2, an experimental communications satellite, into orbit by means of carrier rocket Unha-2 under the state’s long-term plan for the development of outer space.

Unha-2, which was launched at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province at 11:20 (3:20 a.m. British time) on April 5, accurately put Kwangmyongsong-2 into its orbit at 11:29:02, nine minutes and two seconds after its launch.

The satellite is going round the earth along its elliptic orbit at the angle of inclination of 40.6 degrees at 490 km perigee and 1,426 km apogee. Its cycle is 104 minutes and 12 seconds.

Mounted on the satellite are necessary measuring devices and communications apparatuses.

The satellite is going round on its routine orbit.

It is sending to the earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans ‘Song of General Kim Il-sung’ and ‘Song of General Kim Jong-il’ and measured information at 470 MHz. By the use of the satellite the relay communications is now underway by UHF frequency band.

The satellite is of decisive significance in promoting the scientific researches into the peaceful use of outer space and solving scientific and technological problems for the launch of practical satellites in the future.

Carrier rocket Unha-2 has three stages.

The carrier rocket and the satellite developed by the indigenous wisdom and technology are the shining results gained in the efforts to develop the nation’s space science and technology on a higher level.

The successful satellite launch is symbolic of the leaping advance made in the nation’s space science and technology was conducted against the background of the stirring period when a high-pitched drive for bringing about a fresh great revolutionary surge is under way throughout the country to open the gate to a great prosperous and powerful nation without fail by 2012, the centenary of the birth of President Kim Il-sung, under the far-reaching plan of leader Kim Jong-il.

This is powerfully encouraging the Korean people all out in the general advance.

The US and South Korea claim that two of the rocket’s stages and its payload fell into the ocean and that the satellite did not reach orbit.

So if we can believe the North Korean media, there are now TWO satellites in orbit broadcasting the “Song of General Kim il Sung” and the “Song of General Kin Jong il” at 27 MHz and 470 MHz.  Too bad short wave radios are so rare in the DPRK.

To date, however, no other country has verified the Kwangmyongsong No. 1 is in orbit–with one minor exception.  That minor exception came from the Russian space agency which seems to have offered a temporary confirmation of the satellite (followed by a quick retraction) so the DPRK could assert that another country verified the satellite’s existence.

Repeating history, Russian Foreign Ministry “verifies” Kwangmyongsong No. 2 satellite launch:

The DPRK sent an artificial Earth Satellite into a low-Earth orbit on the morning of April 5. According to Russian aerospace monitoring data, the launch trajectory did not pass over the territory of the Russian Federation. The parameters of the satellite’s orbit are being specified.

The DPRK had informed the Russian side ahead of time about the launch.

We call on all concerned states to show restraint in judgments and action in the current situation and to proceed from objective data on the nature of the DPRK launch.

We intend to watch further developments attentively, remaining in close touch and holding consultations with all concerned sides.

Note that the above quote is from the Russian Foreign Ministry—not its space agency—and it is coupled with a call for political restraint.  This is entirely a political statement, not a scientific acknowledgement of the satellite’s existence.  Essentially, this quote asserts that for the purposes of public diplomacy, the Russian Foreign Ministry classifies this event as a satellite launch rather than a missile test. This follow up story in RIA Novosti is much more agnostic.

But the original satellite’s importance to domestic politics seems to have faded.  Even KCNA’s coverage has significantly tapered off over the years.  Below is a table of KCNA mentions of the Kwangmyongsong No. 1 satellite from its launch date through today:



Let’s see if 10 years from now reporting on the Kwangmyongsong No. 2 is any different.  Meanwhile, we can all feel sorry for the people at KCNA who will now have to report on TWO satellites that do not exist.

Below are additional links and media related to this story:

1. Satellite image of the rocket lift off

2. Joint US-EU statement

3. Scott Snyder identifies the missile’s political targets

4. Evan Ramstad focuses on the recket’s use in domestic politics

UPDATE 5 (2009-3-16): The Choson Ilbo reports that the DPRK spent at least $30 million on the missile:

Experts speculate that impoverished North Korea spent at least US$30 million on development of a missile it is apparently poised to launch. While the North says it is launching a rocket to propel a satellite into orbit, many in the West are convinced this is in fact a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

When North Korea test-launched seven medium and long-range missiles in July 2006, South Korean military authorities estimated the total cost at about $63.69 million (about W60 billion according to the exchange rate at that time).

Grand National Party spokesman Yoon Sang-hyun on Friday said his party estimates North Korea spent about $30 million test-launching the Taepodong-2 missile three years ago. “They should have spent the money to feed and clothe their people,” Yoon added.

North Korea spent approximately $20 million test-firing the Taepodong-1 missile in 1998, and experts guess it cost more this time since performance and capabilities including the airframe and range of the Taepodong-2 missile have been improved by more than 10 percent since the rocket fizzled ignominiously in a test three years ago.

A researcher with a government-funded think tank said, “North Korea may have spent between W800 billion and W900 billion (US$1=W1,488) developing and manufacturing the rocket for the Taepodong-2 alone.”

UPDATE 4 (2009-3-16):  Martyn Williams informs me that the North Koreans have closed air routes throught their controlled airspace:

North Korea will close two aerial routes through its controlled airspace from April 4 to 8 in order to launch what Pyongyang claims is a communications satellite, Japan’s transport ministry said Saturday. (Kyodo)

And the routes to be closed:

APR 02:00 2009 UNTIL 08 APR 07:00 2009. CREATED: 21 MAR 03:22 2009

These waypoints have been added to a Google Earth application which you may download here.

UPDATE 3 (2009-3-15): Martyn Williams was kind enough to send me the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) from Fukuoka (Japan) Air Traffic Control—posted below in full. The NOTAM provides the best estimate of the date and time of the launch.

Using this information, I have mapped out the Musudan launch path and areas of falling debris on Google Earth:



Click on image for a larger view.

Download this .KMZ file (with additional closed air routes) to your Google Earth here.




404140N1353445E 402722N1383040E
401634N1383022E 403052N1353426E
343542N1644042E 312222N1721836E
295553N1721347E 330916N1643542E

*(11:00am-4:00pm in Japan)

UPDATE 2 (2009-2-24): The DPRK has officially announced that it intends to put another “satellite” into orbit.  According to KCNA:

The preparations for launching experimental communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 by means of delivery rocket Unha-2 are now making brisk headway at Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province.

When this satellite launch proves successful, the nation’s space science and technology will make another giant stride forward in building an economic power.

The “Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground (TSLG)” is also known as the “Musudan-ri Launching Station.” TSLG is a new name, and today is the first time that KCNA has ever used it!

The full KCNA story can be read here.

Below you can find previous posts on the DPRK’s efforts to put a satellite into orbit—including information on the mysterious Kwangmyongsong-1.

UPDATE 1 (2009-2-13):  The Daily NK is reporting that the DPRK plans to launch “another satellite” called the “Kwongmyongsong No. 2.”

Senior Technical Analyst at Charles P. Vick stated, “North Korea is expected to flight test one or two Teap’o-dong-2(sic) class missiles, either as a satellite launch attempt, or a ballistic missile flight, or both, in the spring or summer of 2009,” in a report entitled “The Latest up-date in North Korean Ballistic Missile & Space Booster Developments.”

North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS) reported on the 12th news from its source in North Hamkyung Province, which seemed to confirm the satellite theory; “The Kwangmyungsung-2, an artificial satellite, will be launched soon at the missile site in Moosudan-ri, Hwadae (county),” the source announced.

According to the NKIS report, the Kwangmyungsung-2, allegedly a communications satellite, was developed by the Institute of Electronic War under the Academy of Sciences for Defense.

If they go through with it, KCNA will have to report on two satellites that are not in orbit.

Read the full story here:
Taepodong-2: Missile or Satellite?
Daily NK
Jeong Jae Sung

ORIGINAL POST: Shortly after the Onion reported this, the Australian tells us that the Kim Jong il government has declared it is actively pursuing a “space program”:

“The DPRK’s (North Korea) policy of advancing to space for peaceful purposes is a justifiable aim that fits the global trend of the times. There is no power in the world that can stop it,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“As long as developing and using space are aimed at peaceful purposes and such efforts contribute to enhancing human beings’ happiness, no one in the world can find fault with them.”

It noted that Iran on Monday successfully launched a satellite carried by a home-built rocket, setting alarm bells ringing among Western powers because of the implications for the range of its ballistic missiles.

Rodong said North Korea had long been working on space research and development.

“Currently, our scientists and engineers, in keeping with the international trend, are actively pushing ahead with projects aimed at utilising space for peaceful goals,” it added. (The Australian)

Of course North Korea has used its purported space program as political cover for missle tests before.  Back in 1998, Pyongyang informed the world about the successful launch of the “Kwangmyongsong No.1” satellite (which coincided with a previous round of missile tests).  The satellite supposedly circles the earth playing the Song of General Kim il Sung.  Although no one has been able to verify it is in orbit, as far as the North Korean people are aware the satellite is still circling the earth!  KCNA just reported on it in January.

I should also point out that Pyongyang has consistently emphasized space travel as a policy goal in the mass games. See this photo at Pyongyang’s Moranbong Middle School and this photo in the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace.


Kwangmyongsong No. 1 “satellite” compendium

Friday, July 31st, 1998


Pictured above: A model of the satellite in the 3 Revolutionas exhibition in Pyongyang.

On 1998-8-31 the DPRK tested its first long-range rocket. As had been done in other countries before, the test was made to appear as an attempted satellite launch. Below are key articles from KCNA at the time and additional information. More information can be found at the Wikipedia page.

KCNA announced the story on 2013-9-7:

Rodong Sinmun on successful launch of “Kwangmyongsong No. 1”

Pyongyang, September 7 (KCNA) — The scientists and technicians of Korea succeeded in putting the first artificial satellite into orbit. This is a present of their loyalty to General Secretary Kim Jong Il. This also demonstrates the fixed faith of the Korean people to build a strong and prosperious country of Juche, rallied close around him. Rodong Sinmun today stresses this in a lengthy editorial article captioned “warm congratulations on successful launch of the first artificial satellite ‘Kwangmyongsong No. 1’.”

The daily says: The successful launch of the first artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No.1” in Korea demonstrated the inexhaustible potentials of Juche Korea. It is a significant event that set up a new milestone in the building of a strong and prosperous socialist country. It is an all-round crystal of the strength of the DPRK, independent in politics, self-sufficient in the economy and self-reliant in national defence, and the highest peak of Juche-based science and technology. The recent auspicious event is a solemn gunreport of the building of a strong and prosperous country. The launch, a historic event, gives the confidence in the final victory and optimism to the Korean people on an arduous socialist forced march. It is of weighty importance in exploring new areas of our science and technology. The launch makes it possible to lay solid foundations for the launch of practical satellites. It is thanks to the guidance of Kim Jong Il that a huge army of competent scientists and technicians and a reliable scientific research have been built and proud successes of science and technology have been gained. The recently-launched carrier rocket and artificial satellite have been developed by our wisdom, technology and local materials 100 percent. The recent launch proves that no doubt, our science and technology are on the level of those of advanced countries–it fully demonstrates the advantages of socialism over capitalism. We will go in advance of imperialism in science and technology and win victory of Korean socialism.

KCNA offered an update on 2013-9-8:

“Kwangmyongsong No. 1” revolves round earth

Pyongyang, September 8 (KCNA) — The first artificial satellite of the DPRK launched at Musudan-ri, Hwadae county, North Hamgyong Province, on August 31 is now revolving round the earth. The multi-stage carrier rocket and satellite launched by Korean scientists and technicians were developed with local strength, wisdom and technology 100 percent.

Today’s edition of Rodong Sinmun carries an interview with scientists and technicians involved in the satellite launch and a sketch map of the carrier rocket launching test. The first and second rocket stages are made up of liquid rocket engines and the third stage an engine with highly efficient solid fuel. The control mechanism of the rocket is a product of advanced science and technology, including computers.

The first stage was separated from the rocket 95 seconds after the launch and fell on the open waters of the East Sea of Korea 253 km off the launching station, that is 40 degrees 51 minutes north latitude 132 degrees 40 minutes east longitude. The second stage opened the capsule in 144 seconds, separated itself from the rocket in 266 seconds and fell on the open waters of the Pacific 1,646 km off from the launching station, that is 40 degrees 13 minutes north latitude 149 degrees 07 minutes east longitude. The third stage put the satellite into orbit 27 seconds after the separation of the second stage.

The purpose and mission of the rocket were accomplished at the first launch. This demonstrates the might of science and technology of Juche and proves the high level of the technology of development and manufacture of the carrier rocket. General Secretary Kim Jong Il sent thanks to the scientists, technicians and workers who contributed to the successful launch of the satellite.

KCNA also offered this interview with the scientists on 1998-9-8:

Scientists outline launch of artificial satellite

Pyongyang, September 8 (KCNA) — Rodong Sinmun today carries its reporter’s interview with scientists about the process of the development of an artificial satellite and its prospect together with a sketch map showing the satellite carrier rocket launching test.

Academician, Prof. and Dr. Kwon Tong Hwa, Kim Il Sung order winner, labour hero and deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly, who was involved in the launch said that the DPRK has long since developed the science and technology of artificial satellites and laid its solid industrial foundation, not boasting of it. He explained the background of the launch of the satellite: Under the wise guidance of General Secretary Kim Jong Il, the DPRK has developed a multi-stage rocket capable of carrying an artificial satellite already in the 1980s and made remarkable successes in researches into satellites as well. When he was alive, the President Kim Il Sung said that it was high time for the DPRK to launch an artificial satellite. All preparations for the launch had been completed in Korea already at the beginning of the 1990s. As instructed by Kim Jong Il, the first artificial satellite was launched to significantly adorn the first session of the 10th Supreme People’s Assembly and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK. This was a historic event which made the Korean people and the world know about the might of the local industry and science and technology of satellites the DPRK has independently developed without boasting of it. Candidate academician, Prof. and Dr. Han Hae Chol, Kim Haeng Gyong and other scientists, who were involved in the launch of the artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No. 1,” referred to the purpose of the launch: First, it is to master the technology of putting a satellite correctly into orbit with a multi-stage carrier rocket. Second, it is to perfect the structural engineering design of a multi-stage carrier rocket and its control technology. Third, it is to study the circumstances of the space and verify if electronic devices correctly operate in the space. Fourth, it is to complete the observation system of the carrier rocket and satellite. For this purpose, necessary observation devices were installed at the carrier rocket and satellite. With the successful launch of the satellite, necessary tests were made in the space and a solid foundation was laid to launch a practical satellite. It also provided a turning-point for establishing satellite observation and telecommunications systems in the DPRK. The scientists chose the sky above Tsugaru strait between Hokkaido and Honshu, Japan, as the trajectory of the recent artificial satellite launch. The carrier rocket was equipped with a device with which to lead the rocket to a safe area and explode it in case the flying rocket is deviated from the expected trajectory. Through the recent success the scientists are convinced of the reliability of the carrier rocket before anything else. The success demonstrated the perfect efficiency of the multistage carrier rocket. A scientist Kim Haeng Gyong who had participated in the launch said the carrier rocket correctly flied along the theoretically expected trajectory and that all the apparatuses of the artificial satellite are working properly after it was put into orbit. Scientists said scientific foundations were laid for the immediate launch of practical satellites and the development and use of telecommunications satellites have been made possible. The artificial satellite moving along its own orbit sends them survey data, including temperature, pressure and conditions of power source, they said. The sketch map of the test launch of the carrier rocket of the artificial satellite shows where the carrier rocket was separated stage by stage and where the separated parts of the rocket dropped. It shows that the first stage was separated from the rocket 95 seconds after the launch, in the air 35.9 kilometres high and 19.5 kilometres off the launching station, that the second stage separated itself from the rocket in 266 seconds, in the air 204 kilometres high and 450.5 kilometres off the launching station and that the artificial satellite was put into orbit in 293 seconds, at the speed of 8,980 metres per second, in the air 239.2 kilometres high and 587.9 kilometres off the launching station. It also shows that the first stage separated from the rocket fell 253 kilometres off the launching station, that is 40 degrees 51 minutes north latitude 132 degrees 40 minutes east longitude and that the second stage fell 1,646 kilometres off the launching station, that is 40 degrees 13 minutes north latitude 149 degrees 07 minutes east longitude.

KCNA also reported on Kim Jong-il’s letter of thanks to the scientists on 1998-9-8:

Kim Jong Il sends message of thanks to scientists, technicians and workers

Pyongyang, September 8 (KCNA) — The great leader Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission, sent a message of thanks to scientists, technicians and workers who had contributed to the successful launch of the artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No.1”. In the message Kim Jong Il says it is a brilliant victory of the WPK’s policy of attaching importance to science and technology that they correctly put into orbit at one launch the artificial satellite which requires the latest know-how. It is also a proud fruition of the wise leadership of the WPK that has energetically guided the work of training technical personnel of the nation and developing the nation’s science and technology, he adds. The message says: The carrier rocket and artificial satellite successfully developed, manufactured and launched by our scientists, technicians and workers, clearly demonstrated the potentials of the independent national economy which our people have cemented with all efforts for scores of years. And they proved once again that self-reliance is the only way for our victorious progress. The successful launch of the satellite gives the Korean p0ople high pride and confidence in that it came amid grim trials caused by the imperialists’ hostile activities, the message says. The successful development and launch of the artificial satellite in the DPRK is a great contribution to preserving world peace and enriching the treasure-house of science and technology of humanity, the message says, adding that the scientific activities of the DPRK for peaceful use of the outer space enjoy sympathy and support from progressive people. It urges the scientists and technicians to bring about a new advance in the development of science and technology through devoted efforts, conscious of their great honor and dignity as scientists and technicians of Juche Korea. The scientists and technicians must uphold the socialist motherland with science and technology and creditably discharge their mission and duty in building a powerful state of Juche in Korea, the message emphasizes.

On September 12, KCNA published a response to the Japanese assertion that the DPRK was testing a long-range rocket:

Japanese politicians hit for utterances against international law and usage

Pyongyang, September 12 (KCNA) — The spokesman for the Korean Democratic Lawyers Association today released a statement denouncing the Japanese politicians for recently making utterances against international law and usage, wantonly violating the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK over the DPRK’s launching of an artificial satellite. The statement says: In the wake of the DPRK’s launching of the first artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No.1” politicians of Japan persistently claimed that it was a “missile.” when the successful launching was made clear, they are taking issue with the DPRK, irrespective of international usage and common sense, saying that a missile or an artificial satellite are intolerable because they have a military danger. There can be large, small, developed and developing countries in the world. There is no reason why only a few particular countries can launch artificial satellites in an effort to use the space for peaceful purposes. Japanese politicians ignorant of this internationally-recognised common sense still slander the DPRK. The slander cannot be construed otherwise than an act of betraying their ignorance. Even after the news of the DPRK’s launching of the artificial satellite was reported, they are claiming that it is a “missile.” judging from this, their insistence is not a product of their ignorance of international usage and common sense, but they seek in this to attain a political aim. Japan began the development of artificial satellites from the 1960s. It has launched scores of artificial satellites up to this date from 1975. On September 7 this year it launched a rocket under the pretext of exploring an ozone layer. Worse still, a large number of mass destruction weapons of other countries are deployed in and around the territory of Japan. Japanese politicians are claiming that their own missiles, artificial satellites and mass destruction weapons of other countries have no danger, but our own artificial satellite poses threat to peace and security, and so they cannot tolerate it. Their claim is a brigandish sophism that cannot go down with anyone under the present international order the keynote of which is independence and equality. If they are interested in peace and security in northeast Asia, they must first repent of their stepped-up building of Japan into a military power and apologize to the DPRK for slandering it. If Japan continues acting rashly irrespective of international usage and its own lot, it will meet bitterer condemnation and curses from international community. The Korean democratic lawyers association scathingly condemns Japanese politicians for making utterances wantonly violating the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK, as well as international law and usage, over the DPRK’s launching of artificial satellite, and presents their misbehaviour to the international community. Japan must be aware of its own lot and act with discretion.

On September 14, KCNA reported that the new satellite had completed 100 revolutions around the globe:

Artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No.1” makes 100 rounds of the earth

Pyongyang, September 14 (KCNA) — The artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong no.1” which had been launched in Korea at 12:07 on August 31 made 100 rounds of the earth between 08:24 and 11:17 on September 13. In the 100th period the satellite passed the DPRK in the air 220 kilometres high via the sky above the northern part of Hawaii, Chile, Argentina and other South American countries, the Atlantic ocean, Namibia, Angola, Democratic Congo, Ethiopia, Pakistan and China. The first artificial satellite of the DPRK successfully made 100 rounds of the earth, demonstrating the potentials of the DPRK which is accelerating the development of the space, an area of ultra-modern science of humankind, in reliance upon national strength and advanced science and technology. The artificial satellite is expected to be seen with the naked eye when it is passing the DPRK in early October.

On September 19, KCNA published a list of supporters of the DPRK’s rocket test:

Fruit of wise guidance of Kim Jong Il

Pyongyang, September 19 (KCNA) — The successful launch of the first artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No. 1” in Korea caused a great sensation in the international community. The Minister of State for Mission in the Presidency of Equatorial Guinea said that he keenly felt again the wise guidance of General Secretary Kim Jong Il through the DPRK’s successful launch of the satellite which was made with its own technique. The advisor to the Indonesian President for the non-aligned movement said that Korea’s launch of the first satellite is the fruit of the wise guidance of General Secretary Kim Jong Il. The head of the scientific section of the International Scientific and Technical Information Centre of Russia said that Kim Jong Il has attached importance to science and techniques even under the difficulties and made sure that the satellite was successfully launched. The vice-chairman of the council of the union of communist parties-the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said that the satellite launch of the DPRK is an expression of Kim Jong Il’s boldness and it fully demonstrates Korea’s successes in economy, science and technique. The deputy speaker of State Duma of Russia had this to say: “Korea, not a big country, launched an artificial satellite with its own strength and technique. This is a great event beyond imagination.” The vice-Minister of Finance of Tanzania and the general director of Asian affairs of the secretariat for foreign liaison and international cooperation of Libya said that the successful launch of the satellite in Korea is a demonstration of its national defence power, economic potentials and science and techinque. The general secretary of the centre of the Cuban workers noted: “Korea’s successful launch of the satellite into orbit shows that it has military technique capable of annihilating enemies wherever they are on the earth.” The vice-President of the Parliament of Malaysia and the vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran said that Korea’s successful launch of a satellite is a pride of Asia. The chairman of “Working Russia” movement said that Korea’s launch of the first satellite, which was made with its own strength and technique 100 percent, is a great victory of socialism.

On September 27, the Central Military Commission held a banquet in honor of the scientists. I do not believe the scientists were invited. According to KCNA:

Banquet for those related to launch of satellite

Pyongyang, September 27 (KCNA) — The Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defense Commission of the DPRK gave a grand banquet in Pyongyang on Saturday in honour of the scientists, technicians and workers who had contributed to successfully launching the first artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No. 1.” Jo Myong Rok, first vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK and director of the General Political Department of the Korean People’s Army, in a speech said that he, authorized by the respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, extends warm congratulations to the entire scientists, technicians and workers who had successfully launched the first artificial satellite into orbit. The successful launching of the satellite by our own wisdom, technology, efforts and materials 100 percent is a signal event which demonstrated to the world the national power of Juche Korea and heralded a strong country, he said, and went on: The historic event to be recorded in the history of the nation gave great confidence and courage to the Korean people and officers and men of the People’s Army in their forced march to overcome difficulties for the final victory and sent the imperialists and reactionaries trying to stifle the DPRK with uneasiness and fear. With the launch of the first satellite Korea has ranked among the advanced countries in space development and is proud of its might in politics, military affairs and science and technology. The scientists, technicians and workers, bearing in mind the national pride and honour of having General Secretary Kim Jong Il at the head of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the revolution, should absolutely worship and uphold him in one mind in any adversity and defend the headquarters of the revolution headed by him at the cost of their lives. At the banquet scientists and technicians hardened their determination to lay firmer foundations of the independent national economy and make a new signal success in satellite development. The banquet participants enjoyed an art performance.

On September 28, KCNA explained the origins of the name for the “satellite”:


Pyongyang, September 28 (KCNA) — The first man-made satellite of Korea is now orbiting the globe. It is called “Kwangmyongsong No.1” in Korea. “Kwangmyongsong” means a lodestar, and it is symbolic of the greatness of General Secretary Kim Jong Il. In the 1940s, anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters of Korea highly praised the birth of Kim Jong Il, saying that a lodestar rose on Mt. Paektu to lead Korea. “Oh Korea, a lodestar was born on Mt. Paektu”, “Koreans, a lodestar that will carry forward the idea of commander Kim Il Sung has risen above Mt. Paektu”, “Future of Korea with a lodestar above Mt. Paektu is bright” and “the lodestar above Mt. Paektu shines all over Korea”–these slogans written by the fighters on trees are still preserved. The President Kim Il Sung personally authored an “Ode to the lodestar” on the occasion of the 50th birthday of Kim Jong Il in February Juche 81 (1992). The President in the ode praised Kim Jong Il as the lodestar of mankind respected by all people for his exploits for the fatherland and mankind. The naming of the first satellite as “Kwangmyongsong No. 1” reflects deep reverence of the Korean people for Kim Jong Il, who is glorifying the socialism of Korea.

On September 29, KCNA was able to dig up some more foreign supporters:

DPRK’s launch of artificial satellite lauded

Pyongyang, September 29 (KCNA) — Political figures of different countries in Asia highly estimated the successful launch of “Kwangmyongsong No. 1,” the first artificial satellite of the DPRK. A deputy Prime Minister of Laos, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, the Minister of Finance of Pakistan and other political figures of different countries said that the satellite launch in the DPRK is a “miraculous event” which gives great pride, conviction and encouragement to the third world countries, the Asian people in particular. The DPRK successfully launched the satellite, an all-embracing unit of the latest techniques, with its own technology and efforts, they noted. This is unthinkable apart from the wise leadership of General Secretary Kim Jong Il and it is a great fruition of the line of independence, self-sustenance and self-reliance in defence. A deputy speaker of the Parliament of Malaysia, an executive secretary of the parliamentary group of the Asean and officials of foreign ministries of Iran and Viet Nam said that the DPRK launched the satellite at one try, striking the world with admiration, when Asian countries are in the grip of economic crisis. They praised Kim Jong Il as the sun and the leader who will lead the 21st century.

On October 1, KCNA reported that the satellite could be seen with the naked eye:

Satellite can be seen by naked eye

Pyongyang, October 1 (KCNA) — “Kwangmyongsong No. 1,” the artificial earth satellite launched by the DPRK at 12:07 August 31, can be seen by the naked eye early this month. A competent organ said that the satellite moving from the west to the cast can be seen in different parts of Korea between 04:50 and 05:30 (local time) on Oct. 3 and 4.

On December 1, Scientists were given awards:

State commendations awarded

Pyongyang, December 1 (KCNA) — A ceremony for awarding state commendations, gifts and state academic degrees and titles to scientists, technicians, workers and officials who contributed to successfully launching “Kwangmyongsong No. 1”, the first artificial satellite in Korea, took place at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang Monday. Attending the ceremony were President of the presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK Kim Yong Nam and officials concerned. 8 people were awarded the title of labour hero of the DPRK, two persons the Kim Il Sung Order and five people the Kim Il Sung Youth Honour Prize while other scientists, technicians and workers received titles of people’s and merited scientist, the title of merited machine builder, orders and medals. 24 people were presented with watches bearing the august name of the President Kim Il Sung and 24 others were awarded citations of Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Gifts sent by General Secretary Kim Jong Il were handed to the participants. And titles and degrees of candidate academician, professor, doctor, associate professor and master were awarded to 97 scientists. Speakers at the ceremony evinced the determination to actively contribute to registering eye-catching successes in developing satellites by creditably preparing themselves to be competent scientists with uptodate scientific and technological knowledge.

On December 8, KCNA reported on the satellite’s first 100 days:

“Kwangmyongsong No. 1” moves round earth 770 times

Pyongyang, December 8 (KCNA) — 100 days have passed since Korea’s first artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No. 1” blasted off into the space. During the days, the satellite has made some 770 rounds of the earth and moved along its normal orbit on set time each day. The satellite technicians have paid particular attention to observing its orbiting since it blasted off. At around 15 hours of local time on August 31 this year the satellite made its first round of the earth, passing through the sky above the south sea of Korea. At 10:54 on September 2 it made 15 rounds of the earth, passing through the sky above the central part of Korea. At the dawn of October 3 and 4 it went to east from west above Korea. Scientists at the satellite observatory say that through the 100-day observation they could be convinced of the scientific accuracy of the satellite which was launched by the DPRK’s technology and efforts 100 percent.

“Kwangmyongsong No. 1” demonstrates might of Korea

Pyongyang, December 9 (KCNA) — 100 days have passed since the DPRK’s first artificial satellite “Kwangmyongsong No. 1” was placed into orbit. During the period, the satellite has made over 770 orbits of the earth demonstrating the might of the country. “Kwangmyongsong No. 1,” which has a special position in the world’s history of the development of artificial satellites, shows that the DPRK has reached ultra-modern technological level in the domain of the space development. The qualitative level of all devices, elements and materials of the satellite as well as the already-developed multi-stage carrier rocket are very high. Space experts of the world highly estimate the DPRK for successfully solving difficult scientific and technical problems such as development of super heat-resisting material, control of satellite’s position and peculiar stage separating method. The launching site built by Korean scientists and technicians themselves attracts attention from the world because it costs a large amount of fund. The observation of the satellite is being made on a scientific basis. It is helpful toward accelerating the space study for peaceful purposes. Technical problems of manufacturing and controling the multi-stage carrier rocket and separating its engines have already been solved satisfactorily. And complex and difficult technical problems of placing a satellite into orbit and issues of making communications with the satellite, accurately operating electronic devices in the space and establishing a perfect system of observing the satellite in the earth have been solved. Some time ago, scientists, technicians, workers and officials who contributed to the launch of the satellite were awarded state commendations, gifts and state academic degrees and titles.