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North Korea Fails in an orbital launch attempt

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Malligyong-1 satellite is believed to conduct military reconnaissance

Chollima-1 launch from Sohae Launch station

North Korea attempted to launch a military reconnaissance satellite on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 (21:27 UTC on the 30th) – briefly prompting Japan to issue an emergency warning for Okinawa Prefecture – but announced that the rocket suffered a malfunction, falling into the sea shortly after launch. The new Chollima-1 launcher carrying the Malligyong-1 satellite failed after its first stage separated due to engine problems and "the unstable character of the fuel [propellant] used," the Korea Central News Agency reported. North (KCNA). The agency released the following report: “The National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) of the DPRK launched a military reconnaissance satellite, Malligyong-1, mounted on a new-type carrier rocket, Chollima-1, from Sohae Launch station in Cholsan Province, North Pyongyang at 06:27 on May 31, Juche year 112 (2023), as scheduled. The Chollima-1 carrier rocket crashed into the West Korean Sea after losing thrust due to abnormal ignition of the second stage engine following first stage separation in normal flight.”

South Korean military rescued objects believed to be parts of the North's rocket

Flight Trajectory and Drop Zone

The plan to put a satellite into orbit - North Korea's first space rocket launch in more than seven years - has been met with harsh criticism, with Tokyo, Washington, and Seoul condemning the move as a clear violation of Security Council resolutions. of the United Nations UNSC. Pyongyang is banned from launching ballistic missiles under UNSC resolutions, but in the past, it has said such measures do not cover its nominally civilian space program. Japan, South Korea, and the United States, however, see launching satellites as a thinly-veiled means of advancing their missile programs, as similar technology is employed. But even if the North succeeds in putting a spy satellite into low orbit, it will still face a number of daunting challenges, including camera performance,

DPRK's Leader Kim Jong Un at the Satellite processing center

The spokesman for NADA attributed the failure to the low reliability and stability of the new type of engine system and the unstable nature of the fuel used, stating that scientists, technicians, and specialists involved are starting to research the causes. NADA said it would thoroughly investigate the serious defects revealed in the launch, take urgent scientific and technological measures to overcome them, and conduct the second launch as soon as possible through various "partial tests"


tension rise in japan

The launch triggered Japan's J-Alert warning system, with people in Okinawa urged to "take shelter inside a building or underground immediately" at around 6:30 am. It was lifted about 30 minutes later after the missile was believed to have already landed. North Korean officials on Monday briefed Japan and international officials on a plan to launch its first military satellite before June 11. The Japanese government's main spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, told a news conference that the "apparent ballistic missile" had disappeared from tracking over the Yellow Sea and was not believed to have put any object into orbit. “North Korea's actions, including its repeated missile launches, are a threat to the peace and security of our country, Japan has ordered the Self-Defense Forces to prepare to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile, rocket, or debris that threatens Japanese territory - an order similar to the one given in February 2016, the last time North Korea tried to place a satellite. in orbit. Some said that this attempt also failed. In preparation for a possible shootdown of the rocket or debris, Japan has deployed PAC-3 land-based missile defense batteries to Okinawa's Miyako, Ishigaki, and Yonaguni islands, while also deploying Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyers – which are equipped with SM-3 interceptors — to waters around Japan. Minister Hamada told reporters that those missile defenses would remain on alert for the time being.

US reviews

The US also criticized the launch, calling it "a blatant violation of several UN Security Council resolutions" that "increases tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond", the spokesman said. National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge in a statement. "This alleged space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK's intercontinental ballistic missile program," the statement said, using the acronym for North Korea's formal name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

South Korea was on alert

In Seoul, the South Korean military said the projectile was fired from Tongchang-ri on the northwest coast before falling into waters about 200 kilometers west of Eocheong island in the south-southwest. The military later recovered objects believed to be parts of the rocket, releasing footage showing a large barrel-like metal structure with wiring and wiring harnesses at the bottom. Data previously provided by North said the flight path would have sent the rocket flying south, with several stages and potentially other debris expected to fall over the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and into the Pacific Ocean, east of Luzon Island, in the Philippines. Wednesday's launch also prompted the Seoul city government to mistakenly send out an emergency alert advising citizens to prepare to evacuate the city. A video posted on social media showed sirens going off after a cellphone alert was sent out to all citizens of Seoul at 6:41 am. But the country's Ministry of Interior withdrew the alert about 20 minutes later, saying it had been sent in error.

Possible rocket wreckage with wiring and wiring on bottom

On Tuesday, a senior North Korean military official said in a statement that the new spy satellite would be "indispensable" for "real-time" tracking and monitoring for Washington and its allies amid an accelerated pace of joint military exercises. US-South Korea in recent months, as well as rare trilateral missile-tracking exercises with Japan. Observers said trilateral military cooperation spurred by improved ties between Tokyo and Seoul had sparked unease in Pyongyang.

"North Korean officials have accused Seoul and Washington of escalating tensions with live-fire exercises and a multinational naval exercise that includes Japan," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “Pyongyang is concerned that South Korea is successfully deepening trilateral security cooperation with Japan and the United States.”

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