Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

On 12 December 2012 North Korea conducted a successful flight of a three stage space launch vehicle, with Western observers agreeing that the booster had placed a satellite into orbit. The DPRK characterizes the flight as a "groundbreaking" launch of a weather satellite, defying warnings from the United Nations and the United States, with most of the world seeing the flight as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Earlier launch attempts with this three stage booster had failed soon after liftoff.

Unha-3 Class, Taep'o-dong-2 mod-4 Booster (TD-2 mod-4)
Fourth Experimental Satellite Launch Flight Test

The Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province, Pongdong-ni, or Dongchong-ri or Tongch'ang-dong West Coast Facilities (25)

Launch of the “Kwangmyongsong-3” (2), a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite


Rev. 8

©By C. P. Vick, 2012, 2013

Senior Technical & Space Policy Analyst



On December 12, 2012, North Korea time launched a Taepo-dong-2B (mod-4) space booster launch vehicle. The launch is expected to track on a flight near due south over the Yellow Sea. This open source analysis on the fifth satellite launch attempt reviews the open source information to clarify what actually took place as opposed to numerous errors prone reports identified.

The DPRK, North Korea’s continued insistence that it is “their sovereign legitimate right to have an indigenous satellite launching as a part of their peaceful space program to demonstrate its economic, & technological power”. This is certainly important in understanding that this effort is driven by the need for hard foreign currency for the regimes survival and internal political requirements as well as geopolitical desires. This raises the problem of its potential application as a Limited Range ICBM which the DPRK denies is its intent. Equally the fear is also what Iran has already gotten from North Korea‘s & what they may get in the future which is what drives the international concerns as written in the UNSC “resolutions” Number s, 1718, & 1874 etc., against such activities.( 1A, 2)

Taep'o-dong-2B (mod's 3, & 4) class Flight Test Record

Flight Date Success/Failure
1. Flight Test (1) 07-05-06 Failure
2. Flight Test (2) 04-05-09 Failure
3. Flight Test (3) 04-13-12 Failure - Admitted by DPRK
4. Flight Test (4) 12-12-12 Successful orbiting of satellite demonstration

North Korean Nuclear Tests Record

Date Yield – remark Success/Failure
A. Suggested 1990 1 St. Nuclear Device Developed Partial confirmation
1. Suggested 1993 North Korean test Not confirmed
Attempt to purchase 4,400kg of Beryllium from Russian mafia group thwarted 1993]
2. May 30, 1998

12Kt - Joint Pakistani/North Korean Fuel supplied by North Korea confirmed by two separate sources Success confirmed
3. October 9, 2006 Kt North Korea Less than 1 Kt performance Partial success confirmed
4. May 25, 2009 4-5 Kt North Korea suggested 4 Kt performance success not confirmed until May 2010
5. Feb. 12, 2013 6 - 7 Kt suggested performance 6Kt planned successful EU fueled reduced nuclear device

Earlier study of nuclear weapons: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/nuke-warhead-dev1.htm http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/nuke-warhead-dev2.htm

The North KoreanTaep-o-dong-2B/Unha-3 revised booster that sports a new liquid propellant third stage apparently derived from Unha-1 booster design.

Launch Vehicle Flight Performance Parameters From DPRK Mission Control:

  Burn Time Sec . Flight Time Sec.  
First Stage 120 + Start up ~ 2-4 120  
Second Stage Advanced Scud-B/ER design variant 190-200 120-320  
Third Stage 260 567-280  
Payload Separation   580  
Total Flight Time Seconds   562.9-580  
  Altitude Kilometers Range Kilometers Velocity Meters/Sec .
First Stage 50 0-45 1,900-1,950
Second Stage 50-320   3,975-4,000
Third Stage 320-420/500 Plain change from 88.7 degrees to 97.4 degrees burn 7,600-7,700-7,750
Payload NA   7,700
  Isp Seconds Orbit Parameters degrees Orbit Parameters kilometers
First Stage 230 SL, 264 Vac. NA  
Second plain inter-stage NA NA  
Second Stage 264 Vac. NA  
Third Stage 264 vac. 97.4 degrees 582-498
Payload Orbit   97.4 degrees 589-498
Booster Stages Propellants No-Dong-A same Fuel Oxidizer  
First Stage TM-185 ***
20% Gasoline, 80% Kerosene
27% N2O4 + 73% HNO3 with Iodium inhibitor Nitrogen Tetroxide & inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid=~48 tons
Second Stage TM-185 ***
20% Gasoline, 80% Kerosene
27% N2O4 + 73% HNO3 with Iodium inhibitor Nitrogen Tetroxide & inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid
Third Stage TM-185 ***
20% Gasoline, 80% Kerosene
27% N2O4 + 73% HNO3 with Iodium inhibitor Nitrogen Tetroxide & inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid
Launch Vehicle Parameters      
Launch Thrust Unha-3-1&2 100-104 tons using vanes Unha-3 mod number 4 = 120 Tons with four 3v ton thrust steering vernier's  
Launch Mass 90 Tons 91 Tons  
Unha-3 booster height with payload ~30 meters 30.8 meters  
  Stage Diameter meters Estimated Stage Length meters estimate  
First Stage 2.48 ~15 +  
Second plain Inter-stage 2.48 – 1.5 ~2.1  
Second Stage 1.5 ~9.3  
Third Stage 1.25 ~ 3.7  
Shroud/Payload >1.25 ~2  
Ballistic Range Performance   10,000= UNHA-3  

** Based on comparative Russian data and rocket equations derived analysis results.
*** Known propellant performance and details.
SL - Sea Level, Vac. Vacuum, Isp. Specific Impulse
3. Due to vanes steering drag, Loss of 4-5 sec. replaced by four steering vernier's thrust chambers
4. Losses at altitude amounting to perhaps 3-4 sec. vac.

The Unha-3 space vehicle on the launch pad as of April 8, 2012

Figure 1. The Unha-3 space launch vehicle on the launch pad as of April 8, 2012
Globalsecurity.org Photo credit: David Guttenfelder, Associated Press.

Build Up to the Experimental Flight Test Reports

The DPRK North Korea recently re-stated publicly that it intends to continue to attempt to place “keep launching working satellites ….. as their sovereign right to space  development” in earth orbit before the UN on Nov. 15, 2012. This was also stated in late October 25/26, on DPRK State TV and before the UN committee on Oct 19, 2012 indicating “Our efforts for space development are an exercise of an independent right of a sovereign state and an exercise of a legitimate right under international law as a party to the Outer Space Treaty and the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space.”. This shows the earlier origin of the decision to go forward with this launch when ready from the internal political leadership decisions. This would be in violation of UN resolutions 1718, and 1874. (1, 1A)

Add to the mix South Korea has concluded recently that the DPRK has completed all preparation for it next nuclear test when ordered . (3, 4)

This makes it clear that both the satellite launch and nuclear testing decision were taken at the same time as early as September through mid-October which became obvious during early November 2012 implementation operational.

The reports from South Korea, Defense & Intelligence ministry sources and imagery discussions at the time were entirely consistent with the initial reports of buildup to launch operations first reported on November 23, 2012 but it was initially detected in mid-October through Nov. 8 th 2012.

Static Test Firings

Multiple static test firings of the Unha-3/TD-2B mod-4 engines have already been accomplished as reported by http://38north.org/ on November 12, 2012 that were conducted during last August or early September 2012. (5) Those engines still had to be disassembled and then clean out and rebuilt with new seals and install in the booster and undergo full systems integration checkout before shipment from the factory for this flight.

That Static test stand utilized on the Sohae Satellite Launching Station infrastructure is essentially identical to the Iranian static test facility built years ago outside Tehran Iran. The Iranian’s also having the No-dong-A and No-dong-B static test stands nearby at the same facility outside western Tehran, Iran. Those DPRK engine static test firings on the Sohae Satellite Launching Station infrastructure were completely separate from the KN-08 engine test firings conducted earlier on four occasions over sixteen weeks during 2011 and early 2012 at the static test firing and dynamic test facilities located on the Musudan-ri,” (Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground infrastructure in Hwadae County, in North Hamgyong Province. (75, 75A, 80, 80A, 87)

Those static test firings of the Taep-o-dong-2/Unha-3 revised (mod-4) engines on the Sohae Satellite Launching Station infrastructure proved the first stage four No-dong-A’s engines clustered propulsion controllers modifications and others for its upper stages operation from the DPRK and Iranian cooperation for their application. This was a part of the Science & Technology transfer exchange agreement in practical operation.

The Sohae Satellite Launching Station launch pad, gantry umbilical tower at the launch site is capable of accommodating both the Unha-3 class Taep'o-dong-2B mod-4 booster as well as the in development future Taep'o-dong-3 space boosters with few modifications.

November 23, 2012 Reports

Initial indication that the DPRK, North Korea was once again preparing an experimental flight test of the Unha-3/TD-2 mod-4 space booster appeared to have taken place in early November 2012 according to Asahi-Shimbun and South Korea's, Yonhap News Agency. It's report further revealed that the Unha-3 booster was "moved from the factory in Pyongyang to the Tongchangi-ri launch site in the far northwest" via train in early November 2012 according to Japanese and South Korean government Officials confirmed. The US had informed Seoul and Tokyo about the move from its satellites observations and additionally the DPRK before the United Nations on November 15 reiterated it was to continue launching "working satellites" The propellant tanker trucks are also believed to have delivered to the launch site by train along with the personnel build up. (5A)

November 23, 2012 Reports

The Yonhap news Agency reported on November 27, 2012 that ''After the long-range missile parts were transported to the Tongchang-ri missile launch site early this month, apparent signs of preparations for a missile launch were spotted," a military source said, requesting anonymity." (The South Korean military) is judging that there is a high possibility of (the North's) firing off the missile between December and January." . (5B.) It was further stated by Digital Globe that based on its November 23, 2012 image "Given the observed level of activity noted of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks, tanker trucks... it could possibly conduct its "fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks, Digital Globe said. (5C)

Through November 26, 2012 based on Digital Globe released published imagery confirmed there was still no booster on the pad for the expected experimental satellite launch flight test. Digital Globe imagery published from November 23, and 26, 2012 continued to show vehicular activity indicative of building up for a launch from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province west Coast Facility. These activities included filling the launch site infrastructure on pad propellant farm storage tanks and setting up added electronic and camera imaging equipment required for the launch in addition to preparing accommodations for expected VIP guest. (Once the equipment is cleaned up from its primary purpose in support for launch it is moved from the depot's to be returned to the supporting industry else where in the country.

DPRK Dec. 1, 2012 Launch Intent Announcement

As if on “Q” the behind schedule DPRK main radio station announced what had been in the development stages going back to April 2012 or earlier timed for the present Five Year Plan actual schedule requirements.

“DPRK Dec. 1, 2012 Announcement “DPRK to Launch Working Satellite”

“Pyongyang, December 1 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology issued the following statement Saturday:

The DPRK plans to launch another working satellite, second version of Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by its own efforts and with its own technology, true to the behests of leader Kim Jong Il.

Scientists and technicians of the DPRK analyzed the mistakes that were made during the previous April launch and deepened the work of improving the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket, thereby rounding off the preparations for launch.

The polar-orbiting earth observation satellite will blast off southward from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province by carrier rocket Unha-3 in the period between December 10 and 22.

A safe flight path has been chosen so that parts of the carrier rocket that might fall during the launch process would not affect neighboring countries.

At the time of the April launch, the DPRK ensured utmost transparency of the peaceful scientific and technological satellite launch and promoted international trust in the fields of space science researches and satellite launch. The DPRK will fully comply with relevant international regulations and usage as regards the upcoming launch, too.

The launch will greatly encourage the Korean people stepping up the building of a thriving nation and offer an important occasion of putting the country's technology for the use of space for peaceful purposes on a new, higher stage.” (6)

Launch of the a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite “Kwangmyongsong-3” (# 2), flight path, stage impact areas, warning to Mariners and Airmen

This included information for watch, warning reports provided by the DPRK to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Telecommunications Union and others as required by international law.

The data presently available seems to indicate a launch between 7 AM and 12 noon Local time between December 10-22, 2012 or thirteen days of launch windows. The first stage is to impact 20 kilometers south of the April launch failure impact point or about 140 km west of Buan in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. The first stage is expected to separate at an altitude of 150 km with impact in the sea about 280-450-500 km from the launch pad site at 39.660107 N, 124.7053203 E. The two piece payload shroud (fairing) will impact an area centered 87-88 kilometers west of the Jeju, southern Island south of the South Korean peninsula mainland. The Unha-3 second stage is to impact an area about 136 kilometers east of the Luzon Island of the Philippines over the Philippines trench region, over international waters between 3,150 - 3,950 kilometers from the launch site. Its third stage re-entry debris should impact about 3,200 km down range. All of the impact zones are smaller reflecting refinements of the systems performance verses the larger impact zones specified in April 2012 failure. (7)

Description: Description: This illustration of the flight plan as submitted by North Korea to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Illustrations of the flight plan as submitted by North Korea to the International Civil Aviation Organization, Globalsecurity.org Photo credit: Google Earth.

Credit: Tim Brown Senior Fellow Globalsecurity.org that developed the illustration and the referenced analysis

Based on the North Korean data supplied to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Telecommunications Union and others as required by international law the following information applies. (8)

Launch of the “Kwangmyongsong-3” (2), a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite is to be launched (8)

Time: 07:00 ~ 12:00 Daily Local Time. [2200-0300 GMT]

Place of launch: The West Sea Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province between December 10-22, 2012. (8)

Impact Zones:

First stage impact zone :

35 degrees 44’ 06”N, 124 degrees 30’ 30” E

35 degrees 44’ 07” N, 124 degrees, 54’ 23” E

34 degrees 58’ 36” N, 124 degrees 32’32” E

34 degrees 58’ 43” N, 124 degrees 56‘ 11” E

Second Stage impact zone :

18 degrees 13’ 44” N 123 degrees 48’ 37” E

18 degrees 12’ 54” N 124 degrees 54’ 20” E

15 degrees 31’ 07” N 123 degrees 46’ 24” E

15 degrees 30’ 17” N 124 degrees 42’ 19” E

Payload Shroud (Fairing) two major pieces

33 degrees 40’ 06” N 124 degrees 07’ 47” E

33 degrees 39’ 51” N 125 degrees 12’ 29” E

32 degrees 24’ 22” N 124 degrees 07’ 50” E

32 degrees 24’ 07” N 125 degrees 11’ 37” E

April 13, 2012 coordinates :

First Stage:

35 degrees 12’ 25” N 124 degrees 52’ 23” E

35 degrees 12’ 13” N 124 degrees 34’ 34” E

35 degrees 55’ 10” N 124 degrees 50’ 25” E

35 degrees 55’ 20” N 124 degrees 32’ 10” E

Second stage & Shrouds impact zone:

15 degrees 8’ 19” N 124 degrees 46’ 15” E

15 degrees 09’ 35” N 123 degrees 45’ 27” E

19 degrees 23” 08” N 124 degrees 45’ 13” E

19 degrees 24’ 32” N ` 123 degrees 54’ 26” E

The North Korean TD-2m range performance profile before the Unha-3 third stage took a strong yaw turn to the planned orbital inclination.


Potential Mission Payloads Question Kwangmyongsong-3, 3(#2)

The North KoreanSatellites/Unha-3 revised booster payload.

North Korea can fly out of this Tongch'ang-dong facility to polar orbit inclined just west of a due south inclination for an imaging/ERTS/RECSAT or weather imaging satellite launch or for a limited range LRICBM test without going over other countries territory. While a near due east flight out of Musudan-ni would be for a communications satellite probably for store dump military communications traffic or could be for an LRICBM test flight. This is the fourth satellite launch attempt by the DPRK. In truth “Earth observation satellite” description can cover a multitude of mission including Earth resources, mapping imagery, reconnaissance photo imaging and or radar imaging operations as well as weather in low earth polar orbit. A polar orbit satellite is not an advanced geostationary meteorological satellite which is launched from an equatorial orbit not polar orbit. Kwangmyongsong-2 was an experimental communications satellite as was also Kwangmyongsong-1 according to the North Korean News Agency KCNA. Satellite Details & Mission Data

On March 28, 2012, KCNA the official North Korean News Agency interviewed the vice director of the Space Development Department of the Korean Committee for Space Technology (KCST) answering the critical questions on the Earth observation satellites expected orbit, missions and payload mass. The two year useful life 100 kilogram satellite has multiple missions primarily built around ERTS earth resources satellite technology as well as the added benefit of meteorological weather forecasting. The rectangular box satellite sports four solar arrays of twin two panels for deployment with several external sensors one of which is a side looking instrument or camera on top and five antennas. (29) Close examination of the 1 meter tall satellite display revealed that there is only one fixed corner for the solar arrays with two hinges between the two panels on each side at the 90 degree point to fold around the satellite body. One hundred and eighty degrees from the solar arrays attachment point there are no attachments to hold the solar arrays around the body of the satellite except for launch. So the four solar panels to provide electrical power deploy from one corner creating a flat array away from the satellite body. The four sides of the satellite were obscured by the solar arrays with only the top and bottom visible. Whether this was the satellite flight article is questionable but it probably was a full working model utilized in ground testing.

The North Korean Satellites/Unha-3 revised booster payload.

It is to be launched into a polar solar (Sun) synchronous orbit at 500km high altitude with an inclination of 97.40 degrees with an orbital period of 94.737 minutes. (9) However this may in fact be incorrect based on new analysis developed. (See below from Ted Molcza) The DPRK is now emphasizing that it is a small earth observation polar orbiting satellite probably launched at 88.7 degrees inclination with a third stage limited performance plane change to 94.5 deg while close to a sun-synchronous launch would be at the previous indicated 97.40 degrees inclination which is believed to be outside the booster’s performance capability based on the launch corridor restraints. (9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

Satellite data Transmission

The satellite will broad cast its data in the UHF, radio band while its video will be in the X-band according to the International Telecommunications Union. The UHF band utilizes frequencies in the 300MHz to 3 GHz range with several frequency ranges reserved for satellite use. The X-band covers frequencies in the 7GHz to 12 GHz range for satellites.

Report: Suggest the DPRK Satellite Mission is Not as Previously Portrayed

Reply: Ted Molczan: "RE: North Korea satellite: NOTAMs inconsistent with claimed sun-synchronous orbit"


North Korea satellite: NOTAMs inconsistent with claimed sun-synchronous orbit

From: Ted Molczan
Date: Mon Apr 02, 2012 - 02:46:09 UTC

North Korea claims that its upcoming rocket launch will place a satellite in a 500 km, sun-synchronous orbit:


"It weighs 100kg and will circle along the solar synchronous orbit at 500km high altitude."

The sun-synchronous claim is inconsistent with the NOTAM coordinates North Korea has issued for the impact zone of the rocket's two stages:

NAVAREA NO.12-0174 Date:2012/03/19 12 UTC







A. 35-12-25N 124-52-23E

35-12-13N 124-30-34E

35-55-20N 124-32-10E

35-55-10N 124-50-25E.

B. 15-08-19N 124-46-15E

15-09-35N 123-45-27E

19-24-32N 123-54-26E

19-23-08N 124-45-13E.


Stage 1 would impact in zone A; stage 2 in zone B.

The launch site is located at 39.660107 N, 124.705203 E.

To be sun-synchronous, a 500 km orbit requires an inclination of 97.42 deg. At the latitude of the launch site, a trajectory that directly ascends to that inclination requires a launch azimuth of approximately 192.3 deg (12.3 deg west of due south). The azimuth from the launch site through the various impact zones downrange should agree closely with this value, typically within a degree or so, absent any significant yaw-steering (aka dogleg) early in the ascent.

The azimuth from the launch site to the midpoint of the southern boundary of the 2nd stage's impact zone (approx. 15.15 N, 124.26 E) is 181.0 deg, which is far from the required 192.3 deg.

I considered the possibility of an eastward dogleg early in the ascent, but the trajectory would have to turn toward approximately 192 deg azimuth well before the 2nd., stage ceased firing, in which case the 2nd stage's impact zone should be oriented with its east and west sides pointing roughly toward azimuth 191 deg, but they do not. The west side points toward azimuth 181.8 deg, and the east side 179.8 deg - again far from the required value, and essentially identical to the azimuth calculated from the launch site. Therefore, there is no dogleg, which is not surprising, since it would involve over flying the Korean peninsula, probably including South Korea.

I do not see how North Korea could reach a sun-synchronous orbit from the new launch site without risk to populated areas. Launching directly toward the required 192.3 deg azimuth would result in a trajectory that skirts China's east coast near Shanghai. The rocket's second stage would over fly Taiwan, before impacting in a zone bordering within perhaps 50 km of the west coast of the northern Philippines.

To give a *very rough* idea of the effect of launching directly toward azimuth 192.3 deg, I have adjusted the longitudes of North Korea's NOTAMs:

A. 35-12-25N 123-42E

35-12-13N 123-20E

35-55-20N 123-33E

35-55-10N 123-51E

B. 15-08-19N 119-38E

15-09-35N 118-56E

19-24-32N 119-43E

19-23-08N 120-34E

I very much doubt that North Korea plans for its rocket stages to fall in the zones I have estimated, but it is for North Korea to explain the inconsistency between the orbit it claims to be targeting and the NOTAMs it provided.

Ted Molczan (10)


Seesat-l mailing list


The NOTAMs are consistent with an 88.7 deg inclination, which is nowhere near sun-synchronous.

As I discussed in my analysis, for the 2nd stage impact to occur as given in the NOTAMs, would require an eastward dogleg early in the ascent, overflying the Korean peninsula, probably including S. Korea. I can tell they are not planning to do that, because if they were, then the 2nd stage impact NOTAM coordinates would be pointing toward approx. azimuth 191 deg, instead of the actual ~181 deg. Of course, it is highly unlikely they would perform such a dogleg, because it would create a huge international incident to cross S. Korea.

My analysis shows that without an eastward dogleg, they would have to follow a trajectory that skirts China's east coast near Shanghai, and the 2nd stage would pass over Taiwan and impact close to the west coast of the northern Philippines. I provide the approximate 2nd stage NOTAMs for that scenario, but I do not believe that is what they intend.

Had they claimed the orbit was near-polar, without adding the sun-synchronous claim, then the NOTAMs would be consistent. Given North Korea's historical lack of credibility, and considering that the sun-synchronous claim was attributed by KCNA to "a vice director of the Space Development Department of the Korean Committee for Space Technology (KCST)", I believe that the most reasonable interpretation is that they are lying about this being a satellite launch, which has been betrayed by the incompetence of their propagandists in over-reaching in their cover story. (11)

Sun-synchronous orbits generally are preferred for both earth-resources and IMINT satellites. An 88.7 deg orbit would be considered a poor choice for such missions. An ordinary polar launch (near 90 deg) cannot be narrowed down to any specific type of mission. But North Korea has claimed an ERTS type mission in sun-synchronous orbit, so they must be held to that claim and required to account for its inconsistency with the NOTAMs, because both cannot be true. Orbits between roughly 85 deg and 90 deg are seldom used for RECSAT or ERTS. They are not strongly associated with any particular type of mission, but have been used for various types of scientific research, communications (e.g. Iridium), navigation (e.g. Transit) and SIGINT. (12)

North Korea satellite: retrograde ground track displayed in launch control center

From: Ted Molczan Date: Wed Apr 11 2012 - 01:36:53 UTC

Included in some of the video shot by journalists covering North Korea's upcoming rocket launch, are launch control display screens depicting a southbound ground track that to the eye looks close to that of a sun-synchronous satellite orbit. It has been discussed on the NSF and NK forums. I have been working to estimate the orbit implied by the ground track and to evaluate its consistency with the location of the launch site, NOTAMs, and other information issued by North Korea.

The first images I saw had insufficient resolution or coverage to confidently estimate the orbit. Fortunately, late last night Charles Vick informed me of the following video, which is the clearest I have seen yet:


The relevant scene appears for several seconds beginning at 01:56 elapsed time.

Notice that the track begins on the other side of the Earth, rises above the northern limb, then proceeds south over China, the Korean peninsula and so on. The track appears to be a 3D representation of the initial orbit around the Earth.

Based on a notional launch on 2012 Apr 12 at 02:30 UTC, and assuming a 500 km circular orbit, I estimate that the orbit is inclined approximately 94.5 deg:

1 79802U 12103.11415511 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 05

2 79802 94.4500 182.0500 0002000 359.9726 179.8827 15.21000000 00

I estimated the inclination and RAAN by trial and error fit to a couple of reasonably clear land marks visible on the display. Since the orbit has been plotted as a 3D representation, there is potential for parallax error in the ground track, but it is mitigated by the more or less perpendicular vantage point. I estimate the RAAN and inclination are accurate to within several tenths of a degree.

The epoch is of no special significance; it and the mean anomaly have been chosen to place the orbit near the launch site about 4 min after lift-off, which is a useful rule of thumb to estimate the location of a newly launched satellite within its orbit.

I was especially interested to determine whether the 94.5 deg orbit intersects with the 88.7 deg inclined ascent trajectory, and whether the location is plausible for the 3rd stage firing. Here is a plot of both trajectories:


Here is a view near the ascent trajectory:


The point of intersection is near 28.25 N, 124.5 E, about 1270 km downrange of the launch site, which seems to be in rough agreement with the plot of altitude vs. range in this recent analysis by David Wright (see Fig.2):


The orbit is not sun-synchronous, but better than the 88.7 deg orbit implied by the NOTAMs, for the stated purpose of the satellite. Sun-synch orbits precess +0.9856 deg/d. The 88.7 deg orbit would precess -0.1730 deg/d; the 94.5 deg orbit +0.5917 deg/d.

To be precisely sun-synch, a 500 km orbit must be inclined 97.4 deg. The apparent nearly 3 deg deficit may be an indication of the performance limitation of the launcher. I do not exclude the possibility that the displayed track was faked to mislead the news media, but it should not have been more difficult to produce a high-fidelity fake, assuming the work was done by the trajectory specialists. Considering the relative position of the numerals 4 and 7 on a keypad, a simple, honest typo also cannot be excluded.

Ted Molczan

Ref. For the above analysis (9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

Seesat-l mailing list: http://mailman.satobs.org/mailman/listinfo/seesat-l

Weather in the Launch Zone:

Predicted Weather conditions in the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province. Heavy snow record of 18-20-38cm, (over 7 inches to as high as over 14 inches) blanketed the launch site during the period Dec. 5, 2012 with temperatures hovering at close to “0” F between Dec. 8-10, 2012.

Launch Windows Launch Site Weather Predictions ********

Skies: Sunny (S), Partly Cloudy (PC), (C) Cloudy, Temperatures (T with high/lows), Winds (W)

  M T W * Th F Sa Su M T W
December 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Skies S S S PC Cloudy ,Snow? S PC S PC, Snow PC
T L/H(F) 7/10, -8 3/10, -13 10/16, -2 27/30, 16 30/30, 21 23/25, 12 19/23, 7 18/14, 01 10/14 -6 0/5, -18
W(mph) 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
  Th F Sa M T W Th F Sa Su
December 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Skies S

T L/H (F) 14/19, 0                  
W(mph) 5                  

Ref. http://ja.weather-forecast.com/locations/Sinuiji/forecasts/latest

* Launch Day mid morning

December 2, 2012 Reports

The yonhap news Agency reported on December 2, 2012 that "In an attempt to correct errors that caused the failure in April, when the rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff, the communist country ''has secretly pushed to invite foreign experts there, and an unidentified expert recently visited Pyongyang." a senior military official in Seoul said, requesting anonymity ". (8A) This is not the only time that foreign nations from the Ukraine, Russia or Iran and perhaps China have contributed to various aspects of the DPRK missile program developments. Subsequently it was reported by Korea JoongAng Daily on December 4, 2012 that "government sources told JoongAng Ilbo that North Korea invited Iranian technicians several months back "to share technology on the overall rocket control system"." and that " We were able to confirm that since the summer, several Iranian rocket experts have been residing in North Korea to share the latest Technology,"(9B) However no booster had been stacked on the pad as of December 2, 2012 according to the news reports even though the build up activities continued on an upped pace.

December 3, 2012 Reports - First Stage on Pad December 1, 2012

On December 3, 2012 Yonhap News Agency reported that according to Seoul Government sources the Unha-3 booster's" first stage was was installed on the launch pad".(9A). At the time it was reported to have taken place December 1, 2012 when it was later estimated that it would take several days for the total launch vehicle to be stacked for launch check out and processing for its planned launch. The weekend imagery analysis was trailing the events actual timing confirmed on December 3, 2012. It also reported that the flight plan showed that the first stage was to impact the Yellow Sea 18 kilometers south of the impact point seen in April 2012 launch failure [140 kilometers west of the Gyeckpo harbor in Buan in North Joella Province, South Korea. The impact zone measured 36 x 84 kilometers for the first stage to impact. The second stage was to impact "190 kilometers east of the Philippines". (9A) It was later refined to " a zone of 105 x 320 kilometers some 136 kilometers east of the Philippines"]. They knew this from imagery that showed the "first stage trailer had moved from the assembly building" to the launch pad ". By this time it was apparent from imagery analysis that the launch infrastructure propellant farm storage tanks around the launch pad had been filled in preparation for propellant loading operations.

December 4, 2012 Reports

The Yonnhap News Agency further reported the payload shroud would impact the Yellow Sea 88 Kilometers west of the South Korean Jeju island. (9C) It was further reported by the Yonhap News Agency that the DPRK military had finished stacking the second stage of the Unha-3 three stage booster on the launch pad in the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province, DPRK west Coast Facility. Yonhap and the Chosun Ilbo went on further to report that at the time the third stage and payload was being stacked on top of the second stage as reported from South Korean government sources. The stacking process was expected to be completed on December 5, 2012. (9D) North Korea through its New York permanent representative office at the UN informed the Special U. S. envoy of its space launch plans around the same time the public announcement was released by the DPRK. See more later in this report.

December 5, 2012 Reports

South Korean government officials confirmed that the DPRK had completed the stacking of the three stage Unha-3 booster on the morning of December 5, 2912. Further deployment of communication, radar, imaging tracking camera's and other launch equipment related activities were expected along with the booster and launch facility technical testing check-out before the highly corrosive, very toxic propellants loading operations were to begin as reported on December fifth. Assuming propellant loading during December 7-9, 2012 lead to government personnel expecting the launch in the December 10-12, 2012 period early in the 13 day launch window. (9E)

December 6, 2012 Reports

See the economic section of this report.

December 7, 2012 Reports

It was noted in available imagery that the launch site's propellant farm tanks were apparently being topped off prior to starting the booster propellant loading operations. Reiteration of the expected fuel loading operation to start December 8th, 2012 continued to come from the Seoul government and senior military source... (9F) fueling operation were expected to take most of the December 8th. & 9th to be completed. Soon the compressed air and flat topped high pressure gases converter truck would appear on the pad beside the gantry umbilical tower. This was would be prepared for fueling operations to commence all once again being dependent on the range weather conditions during the launch window period. Those weather conditions only appeared to indicate that the December 12, period would have clear sky's for the expected launch. December 10 & 11, were predicted to be cloudy in the launch range. The fact that the gantry umbilical tower sported the tarp covering over the service levels is a clear indication the launch vehicle as reported is on the pad and being serviced. Western intelligence operation were clearly up to speed with the activities ongoing at the launch site with the completion of preparing for its launch to be finished on December 9th one day prior to the launch window opening.

December 8, 2012 Reports

“KCST Spokesman on Launching Time of Satellite

Pyongyang, December 8 (KCNA) -- The spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology Saturday gave the following answer to the question raised by KCNA as regards the launch of the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite:

As announced, we are making preparations for the launch of the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, a scientific and technological satellite, at the final stage.

Our scientists and technicians, however, are now seriously examining the issue of readjusting the launching time of the satellite for some reasons.”

December 8-9, 2012 Reports

The exact reason for the suggested rescheduling delay due to strictly "technical problems" and range weather reasons would become apparent shortly afterwards. It was in fact not delaying the rest of the processing of the Unha-3 launch vehicle for its planned launch during the December 10-22 morning launch widow already announced. The so called "abnormal signs" had first appeared on Saturday afternoon December 8, 2012

December 9, 2012 Reports

In spite of western suggestions of slowed activities at the launch site due to weather as appeared around the 8th of December 2012 there in fact was only a two days due to range weather optimization. In reality both the launch infrastructure and booster were designed to military requirement to launch on demand regardless of weather or other inferences and that the booster processing was on schedule to meet the launch window when ready. Up to this point the DPRK appeared to have not begun propellant loading operations with the launch vehicle.

December 10, 1012 announcements

"Cold Spell Lingers in DPRK"

"Pyongyang, December 10 (KCNA) — Korea has experienced exceptionally cold winter from December 4.

In this regard, KCNA met Ri Choi Su, vice-director of the Central Meteorological Institute. Ri aid:

The cold weather in Korea is generally triggered by the continental anticyclone at middle latitude. But, this winter the continental anticyclone joined the Siberian anticyclone at 60 to 80 degrees north latitude, causing current biting coldness.

On Dec. 5, 20 to 38 cm snowfall hit most areas of the DPRK, including Pyongyang City and South Phyongan, North Hamgyong and Kangwon provinces, affected by the low pressure passing through the central area.

The severe coldness was witnessed on December 8-10. The temperature dropped to minus 17, ^degrees Celsius in the western coastal area, minus 15 degrees Celsius in the eastern coastal area and minus 27 degrees Celsius in the northern inland area, down 8 to 13 degrees Celsius from previous years.

Such cold weather that can be seen usually between late December and January came some 20 days earlier in the country this year.

From the midday of Dec. 11, the anticyclone staying above Huabei area of China is forecast to be separated from eastern Siberian anticyclone, affecting the country's weather. So, the temperature is expected to go up from Dec. 13."

"DPRK to Extend Satellite Launch Period"

"Pyongyang, December 10 (KCNA) -- The spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology Monday released the following statement:

As already reported, scientists and technicians of the DPRK are pushing forward the preparations for the launch of the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3, a scientific and technological satellite, at a final phase.

They, however, found technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket carrying the satellite and decided to extend the satellite launch period up to Dec. 29."

That is that the DPRK morning launch window had been extended from its original schedule of December 10-22, 2012 to the new schedule of December 10-29, 2012.

The first stage engine control module was either housed in the third stage guidance package area or the engine boat tail section of the first stage. It had to be changed out and undergo rigorous systems testing for flight readiness to be assured.

The DPRK also indicated that they were continuing to "push forward" with the "final Stage" of preparing the launch vehicle. Thus the Unha-3 launch vehicle propellant loading operations were in progress on December 10, 2012. This was while the engine controller issue was being resolved if it had not already been completed during the weekend of the 8th. and on the 9th. of December 2012. Later imagery analysis reported on December 11, 2012 seem to have confirmed this night and day change out operation. (28B)

Weather the third stage of the booster and payload had to be changed out with the payload and shroud being transferred to the new third stage that arrived on site by train from the Pyongyang factory sometime between the 7th. and 8th of December 2012 is uncertain. The arrival of that third stage on the pad on December 8th., as was reported by The Chosun Ilbo suggest that the problem was identified much earlier in the week after the booster had been stacked on the pad during systematic systems electronic checkout of the booster operating control systems. This prompting the factory actions based on the Korean Committee of Space Technology decision orders while the rest of the preparation continued. (28A)

That daylight night time pad gantry orchestrated change out operation my indicate a very intense effort to expedite the tedious process that may have contributed to the ultimate satellites failure to start operating even though it was deployed in orbit properly. The gantry umbilical tower tarps remained in place with the service levels surrounding the booster being prepared according to "Seoul government sources" from the Yonhap News Agency report. (28)

This also clearly indicated the December 10th., and probably the December 11th., launch window had been waved off due to weather conditions as shown in the weather section of this report. Clearly the events news reporting was trailing the actual events timing by as much as 6-12-24 hours.

December 11, 2012 Reports

Suggestions that the entire booster all three stages had been removed from the pad are entirely incorrect. The DPRK announcements of the news events well after the events took place suggest a DPRK deception operation that may or may not have been intended. That is the event reporting was clearly trailing far behind the actual operations as history makes clear. See the December 10, 2012 information. By the afternoon of December 11, 2012 the propellant loading operation were probably nearing completion before the pre-launch toping off of the tanks. The United States was not caught off guard by the launch timing. We must always remind ourselves that the DPRK are the masters of the game of deception.

December 12, 1012 Launch Announcements

"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."

December 12, 1012 announcement

KCNA Releases Report on Satellite Launch

PYONGYANG, Dec. 12, (KCNA) -- 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."

NORAD acknowledges missile launch

"NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
December 11, 2012

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - North American Aerospace Defense Command officials acknowledged today that U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 p.m. EST. The missile was tracked on a southerly azimuth. Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea. Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit. At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America."

December 12, 2012 announcement

"DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman on Satellite Launch

Pyongyang, December 12 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK gave the following answer to questions put by KCNA Wednesday as regards the successful launch of the second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3:

The successful satellite launch in the DPRK was a desire at the behest of general secretary Kim Jong Il and part of peaceful work in line with the country's scientific and technological development plan for the economic construction and improvement of people's living standard.

All the people across the country are greatly excited at the news of the successful launch and progressives are extending sincere congratulations to them.

Hostile forces, however, are showing signs of sinister bid to take issue with the launch for peaceful purposes, while terming it "violation of resolution" of the UN Security Council.

The right to use outer space for peaceful purposes is universally recognized by international law and it reflects the unanimous will of the international community. So this issue is not one over which the UNSC can say this or that.

Only the DPRK's satellite launch is regarded as long-range missile launch for military purposes, "provocation" and cause of increasing tension. This is prompted by the hostility toward the DPRK.

The U.S. over-reacted to the DPRK's satellite launch in April out of hostile feelings which compelled the DPRK to reexamine the nuclear issue as a whole.

The concept of hostility will not be of any help, and confrontation will not help settle anything, either.

We hope that all countries concerned will use reason and remain cool so as to prevent the situation from developing to undesirable direction.

No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites and thus actively contribute to the economic construction and improvement of the."

Launch Event Sequence: From the DPRK Mission Control Displays

Event Timing Sequence:

1. Lift-off ----------------------------------------------------------------- 9:49:20 AM

2. Roll, pitch over -----------------------------------------------------

3. Max-Q ----------------------------------------------------------------- 9:50:10 AM?

4. Shroud Release ---------------------------------------------------

5. Korean Radar ------------------------------------------------------- 9:51:20 AM? Detected by Aegis ships in the Yellow Sea

6. Acquired launch -----------------------------------------------------

7. NORAD acquired launch ----------------------------------------- 9:49:20 AM

8. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. First stage burn------------------------------------------------------ 120 seconds with 2-4 second start up added [wrong figures-156 Sec. - 160 sec. burn,, [shutdown, wrong figures - 98 km altitude 45 km down range], achieving a velocity of approximately 1,950 meters/seconds, approximately 45 kilometers down range at an altitude of 50-55 kilometers

10. First stage impact ----------------------------------------------- 9:52?, 138 km west of Byeonsan Peninsula The first stage is to impact 18 kilometers south of the April launch failure impact point or about 140 km west of Buan in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. The first stage is expected to separate at an altitude of 150 km with impact in the sea about 280-450-500 km from the launch pad site at 39.660107 N, 124.7053203 E.

11. The two piece payload shroud (fairing) ---------------------- will impact an area centered 87-88 kilometers west of the Jeju, southern Island south of the South Korean peninsula mainland. Achieving a velocity of approximately 3,975 meters a second - 4,000 meters/second at separation

11A. Inter-stage second plain separation after second stage separation solid motors burn and main engine ignition . The second stage may be a super Scud-ER and definitely not a No-dong-B. The inter-stage second plane carries two visible guides attached to a grooved riding rail for jettisoning after staging after the main thrust chamber ignition. That second plane has at least four solid motors on the external airframe to act as momentum sustainers while the second stage starts up its engines.

12. Second Stage Burn Start ------------------------------------------- <200 seconds [168-180 seconds], achieving a velocity 3,975 - 4000 meters/second with four main steering engines nozzles or vanes and one main engine thrust chamber clearly decernable. Altitude of shut down , down approximately 315-320 kilometers with range distance of 45 kilometers

14. Second Stage Impact 2,600 km down range --------------- 10:05: AM, The Unha-3 second stage is to impact an area about 136 kilometers east of the Luzon Island of the Philippines over the Philippines trench region, over international waters between 3,150 - 3,950 kilometers from the launch site.

15. Third Stage Burn ----------------------------------------------------- 260 seconds achieving an orbital insertion velocity of approximately 77600 meters/second - 7,750 meters/second with a plain change from 88.7 degrees inclination to 97.4 degrees

16. Third Stage km down range ---------------------------------------The actual 562.9- 580 seconds after launch with an extra 13 seconds, achieving an altitude of about 582 kilometers and 1,700 kilometers down range at shutdown

17. Orbit Insertion ---------------------------------------------------------- 09:59:13 AM 567 seconds or the actual 580 seconds after launch with an extra 13 seconds to orbit at 589 by 498 kilometers

18. That is 9 Minutes 27 seconds 567 seconds total with satellite insertion the actual 580 seconds after launch with an extra 13 seconds into polar orbit at 499.7 km perigee altitude and 584.18 km apogee [500-588 km NORAD] altitude at the angle of inclination of 97.4 degrees. Period of orbit is 95.4 minutes and 29 seconds or 7,660 kilometers per second velocity. Though the satellite was successfully inserted into the proper orbit it failed to function properly and seems to not have turned on properly. Whether the satellite deployed its four panel solar arrays is uncertain as it seemed to be unstable rotating about its center of gravity instead of three axis stabilization and not functioning properly. That is the satellite is not pointed to the earth and ground control my be unable to communicate with it to correct the issues or stabilize it much less get any communications from what was probably designed as a store dump type operational satellite. It however made the DPRK a part of the exclusive club as the tenth nation to launch its own satellite.

Ref. http://english.kyodonews.jp/photos , the data tables of unha-3 launch performance http://english.kyodonews.jp/photos/2012/12/198973.html , http://www.47news.jp/movie/general_national/post_8173

The 2012, Unha-3 is 30 meter long 2.48 meter diameter 120 tonnes thrust liftoff using 4 no-dong-A engines at 91 metric tonnes launch mass Unha-2 booster design shows a new third stage highly refined design liquid storable propellant stage based on second stage vernier’s and their separate engine pump system utilized in a similar but different design that Iran has flown successfully on its Safir-II space boosters second stage.

The DPRK soon after the December 12, 2012 launch released several very detailed videos of the launch and the mission control details which allowed considerable booster performance details to be gleamed from the information. See the : Launch Vehicle Flight Performance Parameters From DPRK Mission Control chart above.

Tracking, Range & Intelligence Observation Information Collection Efforts

Based on what North Korea has already given notice of it can be expected to clear required areas in the Yellow Sea through December 10-22, 2012 suggest that the launch from the West coast facility Tongchang-ri is going to fly out over the Yellow Sea in a near due south direction towards the equator not over South Korea and is as stated designed to place a satellite in near polar orbit that would be placed in orbit before flying over the Philippine region. The second stage impact zone is in the south Philippine Sea near Indonesia (New Guinea) near the Philippine Trench. Longer range flights could be flown out of the Tangch’ang-dong facility flying over South Korea to impact west of Australia 6,700 kilometers down range. The probability of the North Koreans flying out over North Korea or South Korean mainland I submit is highly improbable because of internal impact or avoidance of failure disaster issues much less threat issues confirming the polar orbit intent stated by the DPRK. To launch a satellite would be valid but an LRICBM would in part invalidate their clam of a space program for this booster proving the obvious dual purpose of the flights leading to external export to Iran for hard currency.

All previous international observation information gathering assets of South Korea and Japan in addition to the US are expected to commit to the data collection surveillance efforts. The three South Korean King Sejong and Yulgok Yi 7,600–ton, Aegis class Aegis–class destroyers’ equipped with 1,000 km range SPY-1D multi-functional radar’s, three Japanese Kongo Class Aegis–class destroyer’s equipped radar’s in addition to land based radars and SIGINT operations are to be part of the effort. Those South Korean ships were tasked to define the precise point of first stage water impact as well as the inter stage second plain and payload fairing impact points for recovery operations to follow. Multiple US surveillance means such as land and sea based SIGINT and radar surveillance ships and crewed aircraft, stealth UAV’s in addition to sonar equipped ships of the various navy’s are certainly expected to be a part of the combined efforts. Down range ship based and land based surveillance efforts are to be assumed as also being a part of the regional effort. This like in 2006 and 2009 is to acquire the maximum independently crosses checked duplicative radar data as well as DPRK infrastructure operational data as is possible to correctly define the space booster’s systems performance or lack of performance as the case has been in the previous two experimental launch attempts. (18, 19) The South Korean Air Force two deployed E-737 Peace Eye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft were there to coordinate the total efforts.

Unfortunately in this case “The Japanese, the chief of staff of Maritime Self-Defense Force (Japan Navy) Sugimoto Masahiko said "The fact is our Aegis ships could not detect the rocket". He said radars of three Aegis ships deployed at the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan could not detect those. They were so far away from the impact point of the rocket because they were located on the points suited to intercept the rocket. Two Aegis ships seemed to be located in near Okinawa and another one ship in the Sea of Japan. The ship on the Sea of Japan was unnecessary and should have located it in the northern part of the East China Sea. Japan was not able to record the track of the rocket at all, except the radar of the antisubmarine patrol aircraft.” (52) In affect the Japanese data came from the combined efforts.

This would imply only South Korean & U.S., Land, Sea & Space assets were close enough to gather that critical data on the early part of the flight. Two RC-135S, SIGINT spy planes"Cobra Ball" of the US Air were operating out of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Japan Force

The US has put its Pacific Ocean deployed mobile oil–rig floating platform sea based large advanced 2,000 km range X-Band Radar-1 out of the Pearl Harbor home port on March 23, 2012 in preparation for monitoring the next TD-2 launch attempt. The U. S. Seventh Fleet has also committed at least two class Aegis destroyers along the launch corridor. Two of those ships are the Benfold and the Fitzgerald Japan is putting its Maritime Self Defense Forces, Aegis class destroyer’s in the East China Sea also called the western Yellow-Sea near South Korea to monitor the Unha-3 launch for anti-ballistic missile defense but especially as a part of the U. S., South Korean and Japanese data gathering radar network and SIGINT electronic monitoring operations. Unfortunately the Japanese were deployed in a defensive configuration for this launch as previously noted.

The entire region around South Korea and Japan down through the Philippine region, western Pacific launch corridor is to have sea-based, land and space based systems sensors electronic monitoring of the entire flight for the maximum amount of duplicative data and provide for missile defense requirements if required. Besides the sea based Aegis class ships of the U.S., Japan and South Korea there are also land based SIGINT station in both Japan and South Korea as well as ground based radars and space tracking gear being prepared for this monitoring operation. All monitored data is being coordinated between the three nations and their deployed assets but especially for national security intelligence analysis. (18, 19) This effort did openly show real ranging errors that possible were precipitated by DPRK bi-static induced radar errors later corrected after the event by intelligence analyst. Those errors did manage to be released in the initial public official statements.

There is little doubt that DoD has imaged the launch pad activities regardless of weather, conditions, night or day on the round the clock operational basis by various means such as imaging stealth UAV's and stealth radar imaging UAV's.

December 13-14, 2012 Reports

Booster Recovery Efforts after the Morning Launch on December 12, 2012

The waters off the South Korean coast have a depth of about 40 - 70 - 80 -100 meters with the first stage upper oxidizer propellant tank recovered and other sections retrieved later on. Recovery operation for the Unha-3 booster's first stage its separated inter stage and two piece payload shroud commenced once the projected impact points were identified. This lead to the South Korean recovery of the boosters first stage oxidizer tank on December 12-13, 2012 that was still floating some two hours after the impact. I had been spoted the morning of December 12, 2012 at about 11:29 AM by the one of the South Korean Navy King Sejong 7,600–ton, Aegis–class destroyers. A near by Choe Yeong patrol ship dispatched a high speed inflatable boat to attach the tank to a float market before it sank.

Salvage operations commenced when the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle was utilized to recover the tank section in the afternoon when the sea tide shifted at 4 pm locally after it sank to an 80 meter depth. It was recovered on 00:26 am after an eight hours effort, then it was then delivered to the Second Command Fleet at Pyeongtaek Naval Base, South Korea on December 14, 2012 according to the ministry of Defense. The bottom half of the first stage hit the Yellow Sea first crushing the engine boat tail, the fuel tank and the inter tank areas separating them from the oxidizer tank. This for certain identified the center of the debris field to be sonar searched and for diving recovery operations to continue in the following days and weeks by South Korea's mobilized five minesweeper ships and the Cheonghaejin salvage and rescue ship. They also utilized six alternating deep sea divers utilizing the submersible Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle platform. Recovery of the rest of the first stage fuselage propulsion rocket engine technology nozzles in the vicinity was pursued successfully.

All of the debris parts were ultimately delivered to the Daejeon, South Korea based Agency for Defense Development (ADD) where an Joint intelligence team of 27 Americans intelligence community analysis with Soviet and Iranian missile development analysis background experience and 42 South Korean missile intelligence analyst, engineers and technicians inspected the elements salvaged for reverse engineering, Science and Technology analysis. (28C)

December 15, 2012 Reports

Though the satellite was successfully inserted into the proper orbit it failed to function properly and seems to not have turned on properly. Whether the satellite deployed its two wing of two solar panels each arrays is uncertain as it seemed to be unstable rotating about its center of gravity instead of being under three axis stabilization and not functioning properly. That is the satellite is not pointed to the earth and ground control my be unable to communicate with it to correct the issues or stabilize it much less get any communications from what was probably designed as a store dump type operational satellite. It however made the DPRK a part of the exclusive club as the tenth nation to launch its own satellite.

December 23-24, 2012 Continuing Recovery Salvaging Operations and Analysis Results

After the South Korean and American intelligence analysis team examining the initially recovered oxidizer tank of the first stage and the flight data they issued their judgment findings. The summation of the reports information was released to the press with the following information according to the Ministry of Defense. (28D)

1 ."The tank measured 2.48 meter in diameter and 7.6 meters in length with a mass of 3.2 tons".

2. It was utilized to carry the highly toxic liquid oxidizer known as the Soviet era "AK-27, which consists of 27% N2O4 + 73% HNO3 with Iodium inhibitor Nitrogen Tetroxide & inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid".

3. "Red fuming nitric acid was used in missiles developed by the Soviet Union," according to one of the team members that asked to remain anonymous. "Because it used red fuming nitric acid as an oxidizer, which can be stored for a long time at normal temperature, the team concluded that (the rocket) was intended for testing (the North's) ICBM technology, rather than developing a space launch vehicle." Additionally, South Korean officials said the missile had an "estimated range with a 500-600 kg warhead of 10,000,kilometers or more", even though the re-entry vehicle technology to range performance and nuclear device systems reduction in size to fit the re-entry vehicle had at that time yet to be demonstrated.

4. The analysis also acknowledged that "the DPRK had used Scud-B and No dong-A missile technology to develop the rocket second and third stages, which successfully separated at each stage of the flight".

5. "It used four No dong-A missile engines for the first stage booster, while utilizing one Scud-B missile engine to make the second stage propellant in a bid to save time and cost".

6. "The rocket oxidizer tank was made of a mixture of aluminum and magnesium, AIMg6, and was equipped with a camera tasked with monitoring engines, a propellant motor and fuel pipelines on its side".

7. "While the North is believed to have produced the alloy, there is also possibility that it has imported it from overseas". This was to be determined.

8. "Poor welding done manually and uneven surface shows that North Korea seems to have no advanced welding manufacturing technology in that area".

9. "Some components, including a compression censor and electric wires, were identified as imported, the report said, but there were no materials that have violated the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a voluntary guideline shared by 34 members aimed at limiting exports of delivery systems and related technology for ballistic missiles", it said. (28D)

10. It was further added "As the additional pieces are salvaged, we will be able to look deeper into the function and structure of North Korea's long range rocket." (28D)

11. The oxidizer tanks structures with its internal design vertical slosh baffles suggested a Russian, Iranian design connection.

The salvage operation were still ongoing on December 23, 2012 when at least six more pieces were recovered. They were the first stage fuel tank, its base instrumentation ring and the top of the engine bay auxiliary equipment and part of the thrust chamber and associated turbo-machinery engine elements with still more coming. Those part were found at a depth of 85 to 88 meters. The total recovered so far as of December 28, 2012 was 10 pieces of debris from the DPRK launch vehicle. They had added the first stage inter tank section and the second plain first second stage inter stage section, vernier steering chambers, thrust chamber injector heads and turbo-pumps and associated systems. Those operations would continue for weeks that also included a search for the boosters second stage. No reports on the payload shroud or the second stage have surfaced but that does not mean they were not investigated along with all the flight launch vehicle performance data.

January 9, 2013 Report: Partial joint Intelligence Team Report Released January 18-21, 2013 to Press.

Not until january 9, 2013 was the report completed by the joint intelligence analysis team for publication release only in part. A large portion of the report was deemed to classified to be publicly released. That classified portion probably included the launch telemetry analysis and reverse engineering analysis as well as the rest of the intelligence inputs gathered from the radars and other monitored SIGINT information.

See translated report by Dr. David Wright from the South Korean Mi9nistry of Defense:


December 21, 2012 DPRK Reports

By December 21, 2013 the DPRK in Pyongyang had started what would become days of celebrations of having orbited a satellite successfully that put previous successful orbiting claims that were wrong to shame. Never ever before had such celebrations been carried out for obvious reasons. It had taken the DPRK some 14 years to succeed in launch a three stage launch vehicle to place a satellite in earth orbit and its Science and Technology effort had extended back to 1966. In a sense it had taken them some 46 years to build the industrial infrastructure to accomplish this milestone at the expense of its people and nation meager resources.

In a speech by the DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, who had signed off on the launch order just an hour before launch and also observed the subsequent operations success,s said that " The country should develop and launch more satellites, including communication satellites, and carrier rockets with bigger capacity.."

December 23. 2012 DPRK report

"Title of DPRK Hero Awarded to Contributors to Successful Launch of Satellite

Pyongyang, December 23 (KCNA) — The title of DPRK Hero, gold star medals and Orders of National Flag (First Class) were awarded to Choe Chun Sik and 100 other scientists, technicians, workers and officials. ......

A decree was promulgated by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK in this regard on Saturday".

Observation on DPRK Operational Launch Practices

The North Koreans like the Soviets and Chinese operate on the principle that the Russians have taught both. The booster and payload come from the dedicated factory ready to go but require ground testing in the horizontal assembly building for integration testing and pad installation testing. If any issues develop that they cannot resolve with what is available on site out of the accompanying trucks they have to send it back to the factory in north Pyongyang.

They also follow the rocket engine design criteria of “on” then “off” for their control with controller differential throttling and steering through vanes in the gas jet influence or steering vernier's engines separate from the main engines.

They assemble the booster one stage at a time on the so called universal mobile launch pad set up for the Unha-2 class booster Taep'o-dong-2B using the transporter erector an gantry umbilical tower crane. The pad and gantry umbilical tower are designed to accommodate both the Taep'o-dong-2B and new Taep'o-dong-3 space boosters with few modifications.

Taep’o-dong-2b, mod-4 & Taep’o-dong-3/Unha-3 application using the same launch infrastructure.

PROVISIONAL ESTIMATED: TD-3 design based on pad and heritage TD-2B, No-dong-B and KN-08/No-Dong-C missile systems designs as well as DPRK released art work of a larger space booster configuration.

The DPRK North Korea is building up to flight test of this next space launch as well as flight test of the KN-08 LRICBM. The attached drawing indicates the relative size of the systems. From left going right is the Taep'o-dong-2B and new Taep'o-dong-3 space boosters in the gantry and further to the right is the No-dong-B and the KN-08 ballistic missiles. The No-dong-B is the second stage of the Taep'o-dong-2B and the KN-08 is the heritage system for the postulated Taep'o-dong-3.

The gantry umbilical tower can easily have its service levels covered with tarps for environmental control prior to launch for wintertime operations. A launch much into January is indeed questionable due to weather constraints both on the ground and at altitude. It is built to military requirements for all weather operations so time will tell. Proper warnings are to be expected which has been their past practice.

First the last time I do not remember the third Stage, transporter and payload to have been visible until after the booster was on the launch pad.  The third stage transporter is probably inside the staging area inside the assembly building and is therefore premature to expect right now. That is the assemble  processes and check out requirements focus first on the basic first two stages then the integrated third stage and payload after that as a separate operation.

Comparisons North Korean (DPRK) and Iranian ballistic missiles & Space boosters through 2012

They had apparently produced 20 boosters by 2006 according to intelligence revealed by the then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld separate from the R&D elements copies so they are down to perhaps 18 boosters being updated as required back at the factory at this point. That is two boosters have been expended in experimental prototype flight testing and maybe one more has been sent the west coast launch site sites leaving about 17 boosters in their inventory some of which may be committed to sale for Iran.

The North Korean & Iranian launch vehicle families. 

This has still left this analyst unhappy with the large variables results except to say the original design underwent dramatic design changes during the 2001 through 2005 five year plan. Ultimately the rear gantry umbilical towers 42 inch tall railing will probably prove to be the real scaling answer along with the Solid motor third stage and the second stage 1.5 meter diameter dimensions identified that will finally define the close design dimensions. That has now been clarified by DPRK officials.

The North KoreanTaep-o-dong-2B/Unha-3 revised booster that sports a new liquid propellant third stage apparently derived from Unha-1 booster design and No-dong-B vernier propulsion engine. 


The Unha-3, Taep'o-dong-2Bm-mod-4 final design with its liquid fueled third stage for the 2012 experimental flight test

The 2012, Unha-3 is 30 meter long 2.5 meter diameter 120 tonnes thrust liftoff at 91 metric tonnes launch mass Unha-2 booster design shows a new third stage highly refined design liquid storable propellant stage based on second stage vernier’s and their separate engine pump system utilized in a similar design that Iran has flown successfully on its Safir-II space boosters second stage. (29)

Third Stage Design Change to Liquid Derived Stage Design

The North KoreanTaep-o-dong-2Bm/Unha-3 revised booster that sports a new liquid propellant third stage apparently derived from Unha-1 booster design and No-dong-steering vernier propulsion engine The 30 meter long & 2.5 meters in diameter, 91 metric tonnes launch vehicle with 120 tonnes thrust Unha-2, 3/TD-2 booster’s, third stage is a derived liquid stage much more sophisticated in this rendition difference from the failed solid motor design of the 2006 and 2009 launch. (27) (29) The third stage was lengthened from the solid motor based 3 meter stage to the liquid stage length of about 3.8 meters.

Scenarios on the Previous April 13, 2012 Failure reminiscent of the 2006 failure.

I cannot get around the nagging feeling that at some point around Max-Q that the fairing shroud may have partially let go and in part collapsed on to the satellite but did not let go. It would have been shook loose about 80 seconds into the flight as the antenna covers on the top of the third stage just below the shrouds base were jettisoned. Following at the 90 seconds point of the flight with the one side attached solar panels being ripped from the satellite body one attachment corner. That damaged the satellite but did not destroy it over and above the suggested a combination of the APU start up on the second or third stage as well as the attitude control systems start up activation. However this thought is unproven speculation without more information.

*One is left wondering if the max-Q vibration frequency of the third stage was different from the rest of the booster structural frequency. Thus under maximum dynamic stress might have caused the shroud to fail and damage or destroy the satellite as well as exposing certain in flight antenna's. That in turn could have precipitated a premature start of the second stage engines that failed to continue. Thus causing it to not start up when it should near the end of the first stage burn? It would appear that the DPRK engineering managers were somewhat concerned over this issue but went forward in spite of this potential hazard to their loss and quick identification of the failure mode of operation.

Note: They very quickly defined what went wrong with the last flight and have probably corrected that now:

DPRK Space Effort to Continue: Additional Launches to Follow during this Five Year State Plan

The Korean Central News Agency quote from the DPRK Committee for Space Technology (KCST) on April 15, 2012 as stating that “Scientists and technicians of the DPRK have already wound up the specific and scientific probe into the cause of Kwangmyongsong-3’s failure to enter its orbit.” And “All the scientific and technological data and previous experience gained this time will serve as a very precious boon to space development and a reliable guarantee for greater success in the days ahead.” It went on further to state “We have a comprehensive state plan for space development including expansion and strengthen of space development institutions as required by latest science and technology and continued launch of working satellites need for the country’s economic development. (66, 67)

For the DPRK Committee for Space Technology (KCST) to suggest they already understood what had gone wrong with this launch failure it must have been highly visible and quickly identified both during the launch and in the following days review. It suggests that it was initially a much more fundamental problem that manifested itself later on in flight.

Earlier on April 17, 2012 it had stated “We will expand and strengthen space development institutions and continue a variety of working satellites needed for economic development of the country including geostationary satellites under the state plan for space development.” (68)

The description of the failure from open sources show the result of a first stage propulsion controller induced asymmetrical thrust of the four engine cluster (none symmetry) launch failure that tried to steer the booster to the East as it began to pitched over going down range soon after clearing launch infrastructure launch facility area. Yes the first stage continued its full burn but was constantly loosing energy altitude performance compensating the steering issues. This ultimately created many of the other issues as previously suggested. Iranian technical expertise helped identify the problem and its resolution to both the 2006 failure as well as the April 2012 failure. The second stage did not fire properly and did not separate until during its ballistic reentry. After the first stage burn was completed the launch quickly lost momentum and started its ballistic reentry loosing altitude. (69)

This was also seen in the July 5, 2006, Unha-3 Mod-3 launch failure that has now been corrected with Iran DPRK engineering technology exchange demonstrated in static test firing this last late summer. Yes the cooperative concentrated effort was successful in correcting the propulsion controller issues. However until proven through this experimental flight test to orbit it remains uncertain as to the success or failure of the applied tested solution.

Guidance System Performed

The guidance system performed from liftoff was much better than that seen with the 1998 Taep'o-dong-1 first satellite launch attempt. Taep'o-dong-1 flew near vertically before angling over and moving down rang but this Taep'o-dong-2 almost immediately curved over heading down range as a satellite launch should carry out in a very smooth flight pattern. It was even possible to see it correct its direction of flight as it moved down range soon after launch.

Launch Timing Question

It had a daily launch window from 7:00 A.M., to 12 Noon over the thirteen days of launch window. Launch weather for the 10-22 launch windows days appears to have upper altitude turbulence the entire period. The launch as things stand now appears set for Dec. 10, 2012 Monday morning.

North Pyongyang, Sanum-dong Missile Development Center Factory Infrastructure

The north Pyongyang, Sanum-dong Missile Development Center factory constitutes a vast facility, testing grounds and general R&D, production conglomerate as modern as and facilities in the high technology Western world. This is the result of studying the Google Earth images publicly available on line. It contains wind tunnels that are near identical to the most advanced US, NASA and USAF facilities. In deed the infrastructure is like combining the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center, Langley Research center, Glenn Research Center and Ames Research Center, in addition to the Tullahoma, Arnold Air Force Base facilities with it Arnold Engineering Development Center. In some cases it reminds one of facilities that only the US has and they are near identical to the US designs. How they have achieved this is indeed an intriguing question with many implications.

Yes this infrastructure contains the General satellite Command & Control center. It also apparently handles much of the military aircraft development for the DPRK. The facility also utilizes other static test firing and dynamic test facilities located on the Musudan-ri,” (Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground infrastructure in Hwadae County , in North Hamgyong Province) as well as the Pongdong-ni, or Dongchong-ri or Tongch'ang-dong, Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province infrastructure. This is beyond the Pyongyang surrounding general Space Program and Military Ballistic Missile R&D infrastructure all working under the same DPRK Government employer roof serving both so called civil and military requirements. The Pyongyang region also includes the Earth Station with its large Dishes and the General Satellite Monitoring Facilities with it multiple smaller dishes.

Iranian Participants Observers:

Iranian participant, observers from the Shahid Hemmat Industries Group (SHIG), the Iranian liquid propellant launch vehicle design bureau organization, have been within the DPRK cooperating to help finish the development of the Taep’o-dong-2B, mod-4 space booster which affects the Iranian Simorgh IRILV booster series presently in development. The Iranians were believed to have been on site assisting with the engine controller and booster check-out operations from identifiable transport vehicle seen on the site VIP guest buildings and the launch pad infrastructure. (14) It reflects the latest ongoing commercial strategic science and technology transfer cooperative agreement programs relationship between the DPRK and Iran on missile and nuclear systems technology exchange as previously noted. It was reported that a staff of four were permanently stationed in the DPRK since October 2012 following the agreements between the two countries. Though Tehran, Iran Foreign ministry denied the suggestion of this cooperation their response is not excepted in the various Western countries and their intelligence communities as a matter of policy.

Wake Up Call:

Regardless of the policy issues if this and the subsequent announcements on this DPRK launch was a surprise to US Government policy makers of the Executive branch of government including Department of Defense, Intelligence Agencies, and State Department personnel certainly indicates that they were not well informed on the facts of the known’s of the DPRK, fiscal Five Year Plan (FYP). That made this launch entirely predictable as previously stated. None of this should have been a surprise. Once again this knowledge seems to have fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes to the obvious reality. This is after years of being told this reality going back to the Cold War years both in writing and verbally in the appropriate means both in the classified and open source realms. CPV See: http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/world/dprk/dprk-economic-fiscal%20planning.htm The US government was in fact warned by the DPRK, of the pending planned launch.

Economic Reality Updated

There has also been information released in 2006 by South Korean, National Assembly member Chung Hyung-Keun according to the North Korean Zone web site that North Korea intends to produce as many as seventeen Taep'o-dong-2 class launch vehicles for internal deployment and foreign sales. The Taep'o-dong-2 class booster first rendition is estimated to cost $62,893,081.76 while the rest are estimated at $26,250,450.73 (2006)--$30,000,000.00 (2009) each by the NIS. It was also noted that according to the NIS the 400 Scuds cost about $200,000.00 each which equal a total of $120,000,000.00 and the 450, No-dong-A's cost about $400,000.00 each equals $1,800,000,000.00. These figures seem low to reality. In the past the Taep'o-dong-1 cost was also given for its very limited production run of perhaps less than five vehicles after the estimated 10 R&D test models one of which was apparently sold to Iran and looked at by Pakistan.

North Korea is said to have gain as much as an estimated $1.5 billion dollars a year in earlier years from foreign missile sales. On Aug. 3, 2006 a report was released by the South Korean funded State run think tank ( IFANS) Institute of Foreign Affairs & National Security suggested that the commercial cost of the latest Scud-ER's is about $2,000,000.00 each and that the cost of the No-dong-A's is about $4,000,000.00 each with the Taep'o-dong-2 class missile being about $20,000,000.00-$30,000,000.00 each. It further stated that North Korea has annually obtained $150 million (or billion) from exported missile sales or both parts and technology. Total sales may be in the $580 million (or billion) ranges. Somewhere in this pricing process their clearly is the dollar devaluation inflation factor well before the recent global economic down fall. They also indicated that the North Koreans have about 200 No-dong-A's [versus previous reports of 450] and 50 No-dong-B's deployed in addition to 600 varying types of Scud's [versus previous reports of 400 plus]. Iran has received two shipments of No-dong-B’s. Clearly the pricing of the Scud's and No-doing-A's has been mixed up with the million dollar figures which are probably more accurate but the Taep'o-dong-2 pricing is reasonably accurate. No cost for the Taep'o-dong-1 pathfinder missile for the Taep'o-dong-2 class missile was given and no information indicated it was deployed. It is estimated that the Taep’o-dong-1 missile first models cost about $18,800,000.00 – $20,000,000.00 while the commercial cost was around $5,900,000.00 - $6,000,000.00 each copy. Literally the whole Taep’o-dong-2 program may well exceed “$537,634,408.61 – $604,837,709.68 in total investment of national resources, man hours, personnel and facilities equipment of the North Korean economy. The total missile programs investment through its many years must easily exceed many billions of equivalent dollars total.

**According to South Korean military officials the estimated 2012 US dollars cost of the new Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province is about $400 million while the booster rocket and payload is estimated at $300 million and $150 million equaling a total of $450 million. The total country wide cost was estimated at $850 million. (24) North korea is said to have spent the equivalent of $2.8 Billion - $3.2 Billion on ballistic missile development and launches since 1998 with $1.75 billion spent on ballistic missile research centers infrastructure and the new Sohae west coast launch site costing about $900 million. (24A) It was also noted that the nuclear weapons development program $1.1 - $1.5 billion on nuclear weapons development. (24A)

Additionally it is believed by South Korean senior military officials that the DPRK has some 10,000 personnel working on missile programs and that over 3.1 billion has been spent on the long range ballistic missile and space booster program. (26)


The inventory appears to have changed or has it? In reality it probably does not change this evaluation but only updates it perceptions.











110 km

? 2006

20? unknown

SS-N-1- Styx




110 km

? 2006

20* uncertain?

SS-21 Scarab




300 km



no longer active?




330 km


< 20*<down from 150 estimate

Scud-B, KN-03?




500 km


< 40* down from 300 estimate

Scud-C, KN-04?




750 - 800 km


<40* <down from 350 estimate

Scud-ER, KN-05?




1,100 -1,600 km


50* < down from 200 estimate

SS-N-5, KN-06???




3,200 - 3,860 km

2004 -2007

50* latest estimate

SS-N-6, KN-07?




2,000 - 2,900 km







6,750 -10,000 km

N/A 2014 ?

< 5 left R & D ?

TD-2 SLV, Unha-3

Taep'o-dong-3, Unha-9



10,000 - 12,000 km


R & D flight test models

TD-3 SLV, Unha-9




6,000 - 6,700 km


6 + R & D testing

LR-ICBM, No-dong-C

NKSL-1 2


liquid + solid


1998 ILC



NKSL-X-2 3




?? 2006 ILC?

R & D

TD-2 SLV, Unha-3 , 9




orbital, GEO, Crewed


R & D


1 - No-dong-B is a provisional designation created by John Pike
The No-dong-B is derived from the Soviet-era SS-N-6 SLBM

2 - NKSL-1 is an unofficial designation created by Charles Vick.
The NKSL-1 is a Taep'odong-1 missile with a third stage and satellite added.

3 - NKSL-X-2 & NKSL-X-3 is an unofficial designation created by Charles Vick.
NKSL-X-2 is a Taep'o dong-2 & Taep'o-dong-3 missile with a third stage and satellite added.

4 -* The Korean Institute for Defense Analysis (KIDA), http://www.kida.re.kr/eng/ latest suggested numbers of May 2013* Includes 100 short range Scud types mix, 50 No-dong-A's and 50 No-dong-B's or a total of about 200 semi-mobile Transport Erector Launcher (TEL) mounted launchers. This was also reported by the Department of Defense to the U. S. Senate on May 2, 2013. How many remain in storage as replacements for those stationed on TEL's is assumed to be higher.

Rough Order Magnitude North Korean, Missile Program Expenditures Expressed in Western Terms not DPRK Terms

Based on 2006-2009 figures estimated national investment of resources in Western experience terms

Type System Numbers deployed Commercial cost in $ 1 St. Models R&D 10 vehicle test elements Totals
Scud-B/C’s 600 $200,000.00 /each $120,000,000.00
Scud-ER’s 400 $2,000,000.00 /each $800,000,000.00
No-dong-A’s 200-450 $4,000,000,00 /each $1,800,000,000.00
No-dong-B’s 50 or more $7,800,000.00? $? $?
Taep’o-dong-1’s 15 or more 10 R&D $6,000,000.00 $18,800,000.00 -$20,000,000.00 $48,800,000.00- $50,000,000.00
Taep’o-dong-2’s 25 or more 5-10 R&D & 20 production $20,000,000.00

$26,250,450.73 -$30,000,000.00

$62,893,081.76 $587,902,096.36-$662,893,081.76 or $537,634,408.61 -$604,837,709.68
Total estimated investments which does not include military first infrastructure and industrial base, food, housing and for the additional foreign production sales etc.


Foreign yearly high estimated income from sales and technical know how in excess of $1,500,000,000.00 the past yearly high, to - $580,000,000.000.00 billion total but these figures have been going down in recent years. The $1.5 billion yearly high has long since disappeared. This is for DPRK needed hard currency for world trade. Also the dollar value has been steadily devalued for this period considered.

Note: Regime Reality

First we need to understand the DPRK internal mentality and economic five year plan reality as it relates to them politically as well as how it relates geopolitically to the international community.

**This is all fine for a Western understanding but in reality, the command economy of North Korea with the military first at the serving table policy actually has no relationship or convertibility to the world economy currencies thus all of these figures suggested here in are merely Western suggested cost thinking based on the dollar values on the international; currency market which continuously changes not the nominal real materials, personnel, equipment and man hour resources basis of the DPRK’s barter economy. The DPRK can declare a hard currency value in a foreign currency for sales purposes as it must but that is a subjective estimation of reality as they do not know what it is worth in really for its products and services. (2)

The DPRK is first and foremost an authoritarian dynastic socialist and military State. That means everybody works under the same employer roof i.e. the military State. North Korea actually operates on the multiple Five Year Plan process with the Self Sufficiency policy while remaining on a continuous war time footing. Under socialism which has long since lost its DPRK appeal everybody is employed by the State but in practical terms the country must be kept on a constant wartime projects footing to achieve full employment for psychologically control focus of the masses. This is why “the military is the State and the State is the military” to quote retired General Odem describing the former Soviet Union applied to the DPRK. The same can be applied to a large degree to Iran and its theocracy authoritarian military State. For the DPRK it is all about the authoritarian dynastic military State regime’s survival and who has consolidated controls to run the DPRK game with internal communist party control over the military as well as its geopolitically image presented to the world. Yes, the DPRK Communist Party likes to think it is in control of the military but most of the military State is party members. So all the aggressive rhetoric is primarily for the internal consumption of the DPRK to confuse the outside world through this deception of a threatening enemy and lack of world public understanding how the regime and its five year plans work.

Thoughts“Cold War” lessons learned or lost, Policy Issue?

In reality the DPRK is merely a fiction economy within an authoritarian dynastic military State. IE: “The State is the military and the military is the State” to Quote General Odem, or it would not function much less exist, based on its commodity barter economy.

The DPRK Communist Party may think that they are in control of the military as the present young leadership is trying to impose but they are not in reality because they are dependent on the military to exist. This in turn leads to a regime governance believing their own lies and the truth is not in them if they know it at all. We must keeping in mind that the DPRK are masters of Deception and Psychological Warfare as applied to its outside world relations for mind and perception, Strategic Control is a way of life there. They live and believe their own lies to themselves for their purposes. (2)

Iran and North Korea are the quid pro quo near abroad allies of China that is guilty of supporting their activities thus we can expect little support from China on the DPRK nuclear issues. China does not have our well being in mind. Their Doctrine says they will replace us on the world stage in a self-fulfilling philosophy. The technology transfer from China PRC to Iran and North Korea a fraternal communist ally has been documented by impeccable human intelligence HUMINT reports. (2)

Like it or not the size and mission assigned to this DPRK Taep’o-dong-2B, mod-4 booster is a space booster application. Its size alone lends it only to the two known above ground soft sights launch infrastructure in the DPRK.

At no time in the 1995 through 2012 has there been any indication of a semi-mobile application much less cave or coffin or silo application for this large launch vehicle within the DPRK for a strategic mission which strongly implies only technology development application to what has become a space exploration booster justifying its existence.

Yes the difficult technology development process far ahead of Iran’s own efforts embodied in the Taep’o-dong-2B, mod-4 booster development could be applied to eventual ballistic missile applications such as the new DPRK, KN-08 LRICBM, but not with this obvious space booster. Historically back when the Taep’o-dong-2 program started it may have had that ballistic missile intent in its initial development but it has long since out grown that and evolved to a space booster program to justify its existence. The Soviets and now Russia went through the process with the large Soyuz SL-4 and Proton SL-9 booster that soon lost its military practical application except for national security satellites to become a space exploration booster. This is no different within the DPRK.

The question in my mind is have we lost perspective of one of the most critical lessons learned from the “Cold War” between the former USSR and US that could have foreshortened the Cold War as it applies to the DPRK (North Korea) and what it is saying? If indeed the DPRK is attempting to develop a series of low to medium lift space boosters as is so evident now as opposed to the strategic ballistic missiles and if every country has a right to a peaceful space program and access to space then can we separate the strategic/nuclear issues from the space program issues under safeguards to get cooperation/leverage in cutting the DPRK strategic/nuclear systems as the world desires. Surely this possibility should be explored by policy makers. (2)

Notes: "While the official national designator of this facility is West Coast Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province it is common practice to name such facilities by using the name of the closest populated place. In this case it could be either the small village of Pongdong-ni or Kwi-gol, both of which were partially demolished during the military facility construction. The designation Pongdong-ni Missile and Space Launch Facility is used here for readability. Other names sometimes suggested include Tongch'ang-dong and Dongchong-ni."Pongdong-ni, Tongch'ang-dong and Dongchong-ni are all the same northwest coastal launch facility infrastructures names while Musudan-ni is the east coast launch site.


1. N. Korea Vows to Continue Satellite Launches, The Chosun Ilbo, http://englishnews@chosun.com , Oct. 26, 2012, P. 1

1A. KOREA NEWS SERVICE (KNS) http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm, Oct 26, 2012, P.1

2. Charles P. Vick Wrote the Following: NK IR Policy issues: Sat 10/15/2011 11:10 AM, Thu. , 10/20/2011 9:10 AM private Communications:

3. N. Korea prepares for third nuclear test: S. Korea, Washington, AFP, www.spacewar.com , October 24, 2012, P. 1-2.

4. N. Korea ready to conduct nuke, missile test: minister, Seoul AFP, www.spacewar.com,, Nov. 8, 2012,P. 1-2.

5. North Korea Conducts Large Rocket Motor Tests: Construction at Sohae Launch Pad Posted by Nick Hansen , http://38north.org/, November 12, 201, PP. 1-7.

75. N. Korea test long-range missile: report, From AFP, Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the 24 hour news channel, YTN-TV report on the testing of the DPRK KN-08, limited range ICBM

75A. It was also reported by Yonhap news agency, April 14, 2012, P. 1.

80. N. Korea Shows Off Weapons at Military Parade, The Chosun Ilbo, englishnews@chosun.com/, April 16, 2012, pp. 1-2. “Between late last year and February this year, the North conducted four tests of a new booster at its research center in Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province. But the South Korean military believe they failed, with one resulting in an explosion.” (80)

80A. An earlier YTN broadcast, aired before the parade, called the new missile by the name KN-08. That report is summarized in English by AFP ( http://www.channelnewsasisa.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1195153/1/.html).

It went on further to say as stated by “South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency and the YTN TV later citing military sources and analyst as saying the rocket is a new long-range missile. Presumed to be a ballistic missile with a range of to 6,000 kilometers rounded off (3,700 miles)” This identifies the KN-08 as a limited range ICBM. (75) It is further indicated by Chosun Ilbo that the four stage engine combination static test firings had at least one or two failure bringing into question whether the test series was successful according to the South Korean military sources. (80, 80A, 87)

87. Isolated North Korea says its rockets can hit U. S mainland, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/assets/print?, 10-8-12, P1. Quote "....., but two recent rocket tests both failed.

5A. N. Korea Preparing for Missile Launch, Tokyo, (AFP), Nov. 23, 2012, p. 1-2. & S. Korea cautiously reacts to N. Korea's allleged missile preparations, Korean Times.co, Nov. 123, 2012, pp. 1-2., & N. Korea preparing to launch new long-range missile: seoul officials by Kim Eun-jung, Seoul, Yonhap News Agency, Nov. 23, 2012, P1.

5B. U. S gov't keeps mum on N. Korea's possible missile launch, by Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency, November 27, 2012, pp. 1-2.

5C. Satellite image shows increased activity at N. Korea's Sohae launch site, Yonhap News Agency, November 27, 2012, p.1.

6. DPRK Pyongyang, radio announcement, KOREA NEWS SERVICE (KNS) http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm, Dec. 1, 2012, p.1.

7. N. Korea notifies U. N. maritime agencies of rocket coordinates, London/Seoul (Yonhap news agency, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/jscript/ , Dec. 4, 2012 pp. 1-2.

8. Safety to navigation, Information on the launch of an earth observation satellite “Kwangmyongsong-3” (2), International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Telecommunications Union and the International Maritime Organization, Annex, Dec. 3, 2012, pp. 1-4. “ At the request of the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the information contained in the annex on the launch of an earth observation satellite "Kwangmyongsong-3"(2), detailing the launch period and falling area coordinates, is brought to the attention of Member Governments and international organizations.”

8A. Signs show N. Korea's stepped-up activities for missile launch: officials, SEOUL, Yonhap News Agency, December 2, 2012 ,P. 1

9A. (4th LD) First-stage rocket in position at N. Korea's launch pad, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, december 3, 2012, P. 1-5.

9B. North places first stage of missile on launch pad, Korea JoongAng Daily December 4, 2012, P. 1-3.

9C. N. Korea notifies U. N. maritime agency of rocket coordinates, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, South Korea December 4, 2012, P. 1-2.

9D. S. Korean military turns to emergency mode ahead of NK rocket launch, By Kim Eun-jung, Yonhap news agency, Seoul,South Korea, December 4, 2012, pp. 1-3. and N. Korea installs all three stages of rocket into position: source, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, South Korea, December 4, 2012, p. 1. & N. Korea Rocket Nearly Assembled, The Chosun Ilbo, December 4, 2012, p.1-2.

9E. N. korea completes installation of long-range rocket on launch pad, Yonhap news agency, Seoul, south Korea, December 5, 2012, P. 1

9F. N. Korea preparing fuel for rocket: source, by Kim Eun-jung, Seoul, December 7, 2012, P 1-2.

29. Champion, Gilles, Japan deploys missile batteries as North Korea prepares to launch long-range rocket, National Post, AFP, April 8, 2012, pp. 1-3

9. fpspace@www.friends-partners.org, [FPSPACE] Kwangmyongsong-3 attempt, Sven Grahn, 3/28/2012, 3:20 PM, Reference footnote #16 should be 3/28/2012 3:20 PM EDT, since the “Ursprungligt meddelande" posted below got shifted ahead to read UTC +2.

10. --Original Message--, From: Ted Molczan, Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 9:01 PM, To: Charles Vick, Subject: North Korean missile launch

11. --Original Message--, From: Ted Molczan, Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 11:08 PM, To: 'Charles Vick', Subject: RE: North Korean missile launch

12. --Original Message--, From: Ted Molczan, Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 11:42 PM, To: 'Charles Vick', Subject: RE: North Korean missile launch

13. --Original Message--, From: Ted Molczan, Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2012 3:26 AM, To: 'Charles Vick', Subject: RE: North Korean missile launch. “Hello Charles, Got back late, and decided to plot the various trajectories I discussed on a chart, which I have posted to SeeSat-L: http://satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2012/0083.html

27. MIT Professor Theodore A. Postal & UCS, Dr. David Wright studies of Taep’o-dong -2, "A Technical Assessment of Iran's Ballistic Missile Program", Theodore Postol, 2009-03-24, http://docs.ewi.info/JTA_TA_Program.pdf. This paper reviews both DPRK and Iranian missile developments.

28. N. Korea extends rocket launch window until Dec. 29, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, December 10, 2012, P. 1-2.

28A. Technical Problem Holds Up N. Korean Rocket Launch, The Chosun Ilbo, December 10, 2012 ,P.1.

28B. N. Korea Shows signs of disassembling three-stage rocket: source, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul South Korea, December 11, 2012, P. 1.

28C. S. Korea retrieves N. Korea rocket's debris in Yellow Sea, By Kim Eun-jung, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul/Pyeongteak, December 14, 2012, P. 1-3.

28D. Rocket debris reveals N. Korea's intention to test ICBM technology, by Kim Eun-jung, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, South Korea, Dec 23, 2012, P. 1-3.

29. Champion, Gilles, Japan deploys missile batteries as North Korea prepares to launch long-range rocket, National Post, AFP, April 8, 2012, pp. 1-3

66. N. Korea says will continue to launch satellites under space program, Yonhap News agency, Seoul South Korea, April 20, 2012, P. 1.

67. DPRK’s Satellite for Peaceful Purposes to Continue Orbiting Space: KCST Spokesman, KCNA, Pyongyang, DPRK, April 19, 2012, P. 1-4.

68. DPRK rejects UNSC’s Act to Violate DPRK’s Legitimate Right to Launch Satellite, KCNA, Pyongyang, DPRK, April 17, 2012, P. 1-2.

69. Analysis finds N. Korea April rocket launch complete failure, Kyodo News, Tokyo, Dec. 4, 2012, P.1. & N. Korea Rocket Nearly Assembled, The Chosun Ilbo, December 4, 2012, P.1-2.

14. Iranian Experts "Helping with N. Korean Rocket Launch", The Chosun Ilbo, December 10, 2012, P. 1

18. Gertz, Bill, Pentagon activates missile defenses for North Korean launch, The Washington, Free beacon, http://freebeacon.com/red-alert/ , April 2, 2012, P. 1.

19. Aegis destroyers keep eye on sky for North rocket South Korea, Japan, U.S. to deploy warships to monitor missile launch, Inside Korea JoongAng Ilbo Daily, http://koreajoongangdaily.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2950948 , Apr 04, 2012

52. Personnel correspondence between C. P. Vick & Mr. Tranaka Akishiga, Hokkaido, Japan, April 18, 2012, P. 1.

24. “Rocket to cost North equivalent of feeding 19 mil. For one year”, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, South Korea report, April 2, 2012, P. 1-2. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2012/04/02/0401000000AEN20120402004300315.HTML .

24A. N. Korea Rocketn Launch Aims to Boost Kim Jung-un, The Chosun Ilbo, December 3, 2012, P. 1-2, & Weapons development equals 3 years of food for N. Koreans: Seoul, by Kim Eun-Jung, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, December 5, 2012, p. 1, & N. Korea "to Launch Rocket Next Week", The Chosun Ilbo, December 6, 2012, P. 1.

25. General reference & illustration sources:



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