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DPRK Communications Satellite Systems & Others

Satellite Missions

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst, Globalsecurity.org


For years going back to 1989 The DPRK was and is known to be working on duel purpose civil and primarily military Communications satellites as well as ERTS and Weather satellites. So far the record is three failed satellite launches involving several types of communications satellites.

The North Korean communication satellite industry is new with little identified about it publicly. Several years ago it was suggested that North Korea intended to launch a communications satellite in addition to a weather satellite and ERTS earth resources satellite. The development of these systems and technology was likely a product of both internal research and development and international cooperation, with Iran among others.

The fact that North Korea was committed as of 2009 to this type of satellite development rather than manned space flight or space research suggested to observers that the space program was a cover for missile development for other purposes, or other dual civilian-military purposes. A desire for complete autonomy was also suggested. Regional allies and friendly neighbors such as the Russians and Chinese could easily have provided communications, weather and ERTS satellite technology or services. In a country with strictly rationed power, communications were not seen as a major priority for the population at large.

Flights to Date:

  • 31 August 1998 Unha-1 / Taep’o-dong-1 failed repeater COMSAT Test Kwangmyeongseong-1 (Lodestar) Satellite Payload spacecraft launch. Planned elliptical orbit was to range from 218.82 to 6,978.2 kilometers above the Earth with a period of 165 minutes 6 seconds at an apparent inclination of 40.217 degrees.


  • July 5, 2006 Unha-2 / Taep’o-dong-2 failed larger COMSAT test Kwangmyeongseong-2 (Lodestar) satellite payload spacecraft launch. No precursor orbital parameters were provided.
  • April 5, 2009 Unha-2 / Taep’o-dong-2 Second failure COMSAT test Kwangmyeongseong-3 (Lodestar) satellite payload spacecraft launch. No precursor orbital parameters were provided. Nore was any imagery of the supposed communications spacecraft provided.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:50:48 ZULU