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North Korea Spy Satellite Launch Ends in a Mid-flight Explosion

Precision 3D image of Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: Maxar Technologies

Ibadan, 30 May 2024. – North Korea’s attempt to launch a second military reconnaissance satellite into orbit failed after the rocket carrying the reconnaissance satellite exploded mid-air during the flight of the first stage.

Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that North Korea’s National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) conducted the launch of reconnaissance satellite Malligyong-1-1 at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Cholsan County of North Pyongan Province. The vice general director of NATA stated that the launch failed due to “the air blast of the new-type satellite carrier rocket during the first-stage flight.”

According to the report, analysis indicated that the rocket exploded because of a newly developed liquid fuel rocket motor, but other possible causes are also under investigation. North Korea had disclosed plans to launch three military spy satellites in 2024, after successfully launching one in November 2023, continuing a military modernization program that the North Korean government embarked on. Nevertheless, the country also suffered two launch mishaps in 2023.

Japan’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that North Korea had launched what was a potential ballistic missile, consequently issuing an emergency alert for Okinawa prefecture. The Japanese government eventually lifted the emergency alert, saying the object would not fly over its territory. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference, “We believe that North Korea attempted a launch utilizing ballistic missile technology, but we estimate that it vanished over the Yellow Sea. Further details are under analysis. It is assumed that no object was inserted into space.”

The Chief Cabinet Secretary also stated that “The series of actions by North Korea, including its repeated missile launches to date, threaten the peace and security of our country, the region and the international community.”

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