Over the next three weeks, North Korea plans to launch an Earth observation satellite into space.
North Korea has informed the International Maritime Organisation wing of the UN that it plans to launch the latest Kwangmyŏngsŏng satellite sometime between February 8 and 25. The hermit regime also poked its head out to report its plans to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, who help manage the world’s satellites' orbits.
It all sounds very official, but the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) isn’t likely to be replacing NASA any time soon.
The North Koreans have a chequered past in their space program's short history. Since 1998, NADA has attempted five satellite launches. Four of these have been flops. The fifth – Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2 – launched in December 2012, and managed to enter orbit.
Although this launch made North Korea the world's 10th country to successfully send an object into orbit, several weeks later the satellite appeared to be broken and was "twirling around" aimlessly, Associated Press reported
Although North Korea proclaims that the satellite will be used for purely scientific purposes, the international community isn’t convinced. The plan was announced less than a month after its hydrogen bomb test, leading many to believe this launch is just a guise for long-range ballistic missile tests. This, along with decades of historic tension with the wider world, has led the United States, South Korea and Japan to already condemn the plan.
Main image credit: (stephan)/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)