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New Medium Lift Dedicated Space Booster


North Korean & Iranian?

3-16-31 thru, 5-25-2012/11-23-12/12-23-12/3-21-13/7-23-13

Rev 6

©By C. P. Vick, 2012-13

Senior Technical & Space Policy Analyst



The appearance of the NK-SL-X in this Five Year Plan is no surprise. The much larger growth potential built into the mobile launch pad and gantry umbilical tower on the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province confirmed and foretold the appearance of this development. The obvious expected and predictable new launch infrastructure upgrades approved during the previous Five Year Plan on the Tonghae Satellite Launching Station infrastructure in Hwadae County, in North Hamgyong Province also confirms these developments. Its previously launch facilities had in fact just about `outgrown its usefulness for new larger space systems. How the pieces fall in place to create the full picture of the DPRK crewed flight plans and the know Iranian crewed flight plans utilizing the dedicated geo-stationary space booster and exploitation of Chinese design heritage capsule redesign for sub-orbital & later orbital crewed flight development is reviewed in this initial report.

The DPRK Space Effort Continues:

The hand writing on the wall has been there all along for this dedicated NK-SL-X-? geostationary, crewed military/civil space booster during the previous two DPRK, Five Year Plans [1-1-2006 - 12-30-2010] & [1-1-2001 – 12-30-2005]. These developments were observed both at the R&D infrastructure of the DPRK and the newer launch infrastructure as well as the Present Five Year Plan [1-1-2011 - 12-30-2015] fiscal requirements planning. Taep’o-dong-3/Unha-9 has been rumored in development since early during the last five year plan around the time of the Taep’o-dong-2 first experimental flight test of July 5, 2006. The recent appearance of the NK-SL-X the KN-SD-X) however was an unexpected surprise development that should have been anticipated as noted above.

Future space launches within this State, Five Year Plan 1-1-2011 through 12-30-2015 was delayed a mere 8 months due to the April 13, 2012 Unha-3/Taep’o-dong-2 launch failure . This has not daunted the DPRK State Planning as is below emphasized. One could also expect more developments under the large in excess of 40 meters tall dedicated geostationary space booster’s NK-SL-X research & development program and large new growth potential launch infrastructures (73) in addition to the Unha-3, Unha-9/Taep’o-dong-2m series. The North Korean, Strategic Rocket Forces deployed No-dong-B IRBM did receive the first models of the new in R&D, KN-08, LRICBM (No dong-C) programs with in this Five Year Plan. This will be over and above the three times a year regular missile testing training program operations conducted by the DPRK. (20, 21, 22, 23)

North Pyongyang, Sanum-dong Missile Development Center factory R&D Infrastructure

In the DPRK “everybody works under the same roof” for the State and it is no different on the large north Pyongyang, Sanum-dong Missile Development Center factory vast conglomerate infrastructure and its State responsibilities. Remember General Odem's, quote “The military is the State and the State is the military.” without which nothing would function in the DPRK. Both the Taep’o-dong-2 and new 40 meter long NK-SL-X as well as the KN-08, LRICBM have appeared on this 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 any 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 its 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.

External R&D sites Identified

The Sanum-dong Missile Development Center 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 its multiple smaller dishes.

Leaked Department of State Classified Cables Excerpts Confirm Rumors of Two New Missile Systems in Development in the DPRK

Keeping an eye on two circumstantial developments in North Korea (DPRK) missilery Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, noted on December 5, 2011 the known passages from classified Department of State cables from the web site WikiLeaks. It reviews and confirms the Sohae Satellite Launching Station already publicly understood new growth potential large mobile launch pad & in excess of 55 meter tall gantry umbilical tower much larger development than previous soft launch site for a larger medium lift booster . (20) The cables also indicates the two different systems at issue one a semi-mobile Limited Range-ICBM and one a large space booster potential super full range ICBM the mission of which was not at the time fully understood when written. (20)

Imagery of the Launch Facility Buildup what can be gleamed from it?

Over the construction years of 2001-2011 two full Five Year Plans long the much larger growth potential built into the large mobile launch pad that has a flame deflector hole 4.0 meters in diameter and gantry umbilical tower that is over 45 meters tall without the gantry crane added on the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province confirmed and foretold the appearance of this development. That flame deflector hole is only for the Taep’o-dong-3/Unha-9 booster first stage engines but the booster first stage tank age will be larger than that throughout its length. That diameter could be as much as [3.9 - (4.15) ] -4.2 meters in diameter with side pod main thrust chamber steering not including potential fins. Initial use of the mobile pad carried an adapter for the Taep’o-dong-2’s, first stage diameter of 2.48 meters. The over 55.8 meter height of the gantry umbilical tower also reflects the expected maximum height range of the planned booster as it is presently understood.

The larger point being that the Sohae Satellite Launching Station launch infrastructure is much more developed than the older existing one Tonghae Satellite Launching Station not including the even larger new heavy lift launch vehicle infrastructure being developed. (77)

It literally sports an under construction launch facility with a booster first stage base diameter on the order of 9.5-9.8 meters. That could be a NK-SL-X utilizing two or four Taep’o-dong-2m/Unha-3 / Unha-9 or KN-08's or No-dong-B first stages as strap-on boosters or a single NK-SL-X first stage as a strap-on booster among other potential booster design variations. These design variations seem to follow the Chinese Long March Design approach. That could create a booster diameter as great as 9.2 meters.

July 23, 2013 Observations: It should be carefully noted that the roads, bridges, port and railroad infrastructure efforts have yet to be completed on the regional access to the Tonghae Satellite launching grounds. Until that is done the heavy weight equipment and the prefabricated components for the launch infrastructure cannot be brought on site much less be completed. Since the booster is still being R&D for its final design requirement that directly impact the launch infrastructure requirements certainly defines the delays reasoning. This in fact was the case much earlier in the launch infrastructure development. I would not expect that although we have seen the core booster mock-up ground test vehicle at the factory they are a good 1.5 Five Years Plans from a requirement for that facility. Additionally the Sohae facility can accommodate the large medium lift booster core flight test booster in addition to handling the Unha-9 booster as it presently exists with few modifications. More recently there have been suggestions that the Sohae static test center was utilized to test fire the Unha-9 booster longer duration burn first stage engines. However there is no South Korean sources and methods confirmation of this. Indeed to the contrary around February 11-16, 2013 the South Korean Sources and methods did indeed confirm that the facility had been used to for a series of test firings of the KN-08 first stage engines since all the upper stage engines are perfected and operational. Previous Static test firings of the KN-08 first stage engine has not gone so well with several failures. Those issues have apparently been addressed successfully. This to this analyst leaves the Unha-9 static test firings testing in doubt in my mind but until more information is more forth coming we can only make these observations. It is equally interesting to note that the so called second launch pad on the Sohae launch infrastructure has no pad or launch gantry umbilical tower available making it ideal to test launch the KN-08 semi-mobile limited range ICBM from that site.

NK-SL-X First Appearance of the New DPRK Space Booster

Is this a dedicated geostationary space booster’s development program or is this the DPRK new SS-18 class Long Range ICBM, programs existence appears to be confirmed by the quoted revelations recently acquired?

The first view of the postulated NK-SL-X displayed a very real "40 meter length" with its “bigger booster” stages with an estimated “range of more than 10,000 km” NK-SL- potential DPRK “SS-18” three stages full range ICBM, space booster was reported on April 3, 2012. (74) It was first reported as being imaged by a U. S. reconnaissance satellite at its north Pyongyang, Sanum-dong Missile Development Center factory R&D infrastructure “…..that is larger than the existing Taep’o-dong-2m/Unha-9 missile.” by The Chosun Ilbo on April 3, 2012. (74) Whether it is a full size mock-up or more probable functional facilities, all systems up, ground & logistic test vehicle is not fully certain. The new launch vehicle appears to be entirely consistent with the DPRK & Iranian planning requirements for un-crewed and crewed orbital flight .

Knowing that the North Koreans utilize the Soviet design development process using sub scale dynamic test models to prove a vehicle structurally means that this model was almost certainly a true functional facilities, all systems up, ground & logistic test vehicle. It would be utilized as a non-flight vehicle for ground facilities testing and especially static test firings demonstration. It would utilize throughout all of it's stages storable highly toxic hypergolic liquid propellants with a fuel of Unsymmetrical Dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) while its oxidizer is a derivation of [Inhibited Red Fuming nitric Acid (IRFNA) & N204 = AK-27P] in all stages. (29)

It is possibly conceivable that the previously predicted NK-SL-X follow on is exactly what Iran would need for its planned crewed orbital spacecraft program so here we have another potentially cooperative program in development between the two countries under the technology transfer treaty agreement acknowledging the known reality. (20, 21, 22) After all how could Iran plan on such a vehicle without knowing it was in the pipe line for them? That is emphasized by the reality that the DPRK is far ahead of Iran in pushing ahead on the very hard to accomplish development of large long range multi-stage space boosters. It is also apparent that Iran must develop a new same diameter of the first stage second and possible third stage for the Simorgh booster to facilitate orbital crewed flight. What the ultimate design choice of North Korea and Iran will require remains unclear except for the dog leg requirements to accomplish orbital flight at better inclinations

Serious Reality Questions on the Semi-mobile ICBM Viability of this Dedicated Geo-stationary,& Crewed Orbital Space Booster

Realistically this dedicated space booster is a very large booster rocket systems on the order of 40-45 meters or more taller with at least a 3.9-4.15 meter diameters first stage as wide as a railroad car or larger requiring considerable mobile ground support systems in addition to weeks of preparation on pre-surveyed soft sites does not adapt itself well as a strategic ICBM no matter how it is presented. A 40 meter long missile whether 3.35 - 3.9 - 4.15 meters in diameter is an unwieldy monster to handle logistically no matter what its purpose. It literally exceeds the SS-9, SS-18 ICBM’s diameter and length of the former Soviet Union, Russia today. It’s a bad joke to call it a semi-mobile designs which it absolutely is not. Since they are not deployed in “coffin”, “silo” or “cave/underground tunnel” based military garrison sites brings into question its viability as strategic ballistic missile system but yet there is that potential option to attempt to operate in that fashion with its potential strategic threat that cannot be ignored. Let us all hope that not too much is being read into this national security threat potential since there is only two viable site potentially capable of launching such a large missile system with its considerable support personnel and mobile fueling vehicles in addition to the extensive launch support infrastructure.

The following information was released by senior official of the DPRK space administration:

The General Manager of the satellite launch infrastructure Mr. Jang Myong Jin stated that the DPRK plans to launch a 400 metric tonnes total mass space booster in the future. (29)

What that 400 Metric Tons launch vehicle mass indicates my be a large booster with up to four strap-on boosters but that is pure speculation. That kind of launch mass weather with or without strap-on boosters represent a Molniya Soviet / Chinese booster class used for high earth orbiting and geostationary satellites. Whether this refers to the core booster seen in intelligence imagery remain unknown. It stands to reason that the DPRK is developing the basic core booster with strap-on boosters to follow much later which is why they are not yet fully definable at this time. They for good reason they may be an entirely new development separate from the Unha-9 class booster but more akin to the No-dong-B, and No-dong-C / KN-08 systems evolution line heritage that almost certainly is applied to the 40 meter long core booster.

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)

Geostationary Satellites and Associated launch Vehicle Requirements under the DPRK State Plan for Space Development

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) In order to accomplish such missions with the NK-SL-X space booster its last stages would have to be cable of carry out a considerable plane change prior to geostationary orbital insertion. This in part could be divided between the initial orbital launch stages as well as the parking orbit stages. The basic three stage NK-SL-X booster almost certainly will have some sort of post boost maneuvering stage possibly as a part of the spacecraft payload. Those are the required constraints to accomplish the State designated missions.

Revelations from Tehran, Iran and its Piloted Program Planning Reflect DPRK Activities

More recently Iran revealed that it plans to send its first Astronaut into space within ten years (2021?) or more accurately during the Iranian year of 1403 which is between March 2024-March 2025, as a outlook plan that is tentatively being formulated according to Reza Taghipour head of the Iranian Aerospace organization stated on Iranian State television. August 21, 2008. That is within the next six months to one year this proposal will be firmed up with exact dates of the requirements for the mission of the three State three year plans down the road. Subsequently Iran has converted its space program to Five Year Plans like that utilized by China and North Korea.

Accelerated Human Crew Launch Schedule

Subsequent revised Iran plans a launch of an astronaut human crew in 2016/2017 that is 7 years from 2010. This is part of an originally scheduled 12 year plan leading to Iranian crewed flight originally scheduled for 2021. The plan authorized by the Iranian government covering several three year plans has in fact been accelerated forward as of August 4, 2010. The basis of its new missile booster developments lead by its aerospace organization recently revised for human crewed sub-orbital launch to 2019 but now there is talk for 2016/2017 as the earliest possible year of the flight. Iran had initially decided as of July 25, 2010 ostensible due to external pressures from the West to accelerate its manned space program rescheduling it for the Iranian year of 1398 which is March 2019-March 2020. At that point the Iranian government decided to go for breaking the crewed program into two phases. The first phase to be sub-orbital crewed flight into space followed by crewed orbital flight once the booster becomes available. This was in recognition that the under 200 kilometer altitude flight for a crewed spacecraft as a suborbital mission was more feasible than the orbital flight that required much more launch vehicle upper stages development time reflecting its level of difficulty. (76)

On February 7, 2013 it became apparent that Iran would attempt to do its suborbital crewed flights in the 2017 - 2018 time frame because of delays in the Simorgh launch site preparation and that boosters development. The Simorgh-3 was to have flown in 2012 but that goal was not met as the launch site was not ready on the Khomeini Space Center range infrastructure. (77)

The below illustration would seem to indicate the planned launch vehicle development process leading to a crewed spacecraft program for Iran. Subsequently more details have here in emerged from the DPRK and Iran clarifying many possible design issues of the planned systems.

This was a first estimation but now more details have emerged from the DPRK that impact the Iranian considerations. It has been indicated a much longer heavier class launch vehicle than previously considered that has considerable growth potential is being developed. Speculation on derivations on the Iranian Simorgh-5, 6 IRILV designs may permit its first human spaceflight program in addition to providing it with a potential full range ICBM though it is entirely too large to be practical as a weapons system.


No-dong-B and Its Ongoing Testing & it Impact on the present & Future Systems Heritage

The No-Dong-B propulsion technology has had a direct impact on the KN-08 propulsion technology and its impact on the NK-SL:-X booster. The KN-08 should probably be designated No-dong-C since it is an outgrowth of its technology based in the Soviet era Makeyev OKB heritage.

Yes Iran has the solid motor technology demonstrated but has it been transferred to the DPRK is at this writing possible but not proven in spite of the level of cooperation in missile & nuclear weapons well documented and demonstrated. Iran and the DPRK have the No-dong-B that was flight tested on January 17, 2006 out of Iran for both the DPRK and Iran traveling some 3,218 km of its known potential 3,861 km (20) range demonstrated then during one of the DPRK’s moratoriums. In that respect this is both confirmed by the Israeli Intelligence sources & methods but especially the U. S. Ballistic Defense Agency officials in speeches as well as classified Department of State cables on the web site WikiLeaks .

The critical point is No-dong-B:

Finally on January 29, 2007 the US government acknowledged for the first time the existence of several new Iranian and North Korean missiles under development through a speech by the deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency of the Pentagon Army Brig. General Patrick O’Reilly before the George C Marshall Institute. In that speech he described the Iranian two stage Ghadr-110 solid propellant missile with a range of (1,324 miles) 1,995.16 or close to 2,000 kilometers. It has been known that the Iranians are working on the Ghadr-101 as well as the Ghadr-110 solid propellant missiles. The Ghadr-101 solid motor development was completed in 2005. He also described the two stage Taep’o-dong-2C/3 as having a range of (6,200 Miles) 9,975.8 kilometers and the three stage version with a range of (9,300 miles) 14,963.7 kilometers with a 250 kg warhead. He went further in his slides presentation to show that the No-dong-B has a demonstrated range of 2,000 miles or 3,218 kilometers (3,000 kilometers) when it is capable of flying (2,485 miles) or 4,000 kilometers. (24) The No-dong-B was described as “a qualitative improvement in the performance” from earlier North Korean missile systems. The Iranian Ghadr-101, 110, 110A will in fact also provides Iran with an ASAT capability besides its operational MRBM and IRBM capability. (23)

Today we know the maximum potential range of No-dong-B is "3,218 km" to "3,861 km" that has been demonstrated successfully. No-dong-B has undergone several static test demonstrations to improve its performance through the years labeled as static test firing and dynamic test facilities located on the Musudan-ri,” (Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground infrastructure in Hwadae County, in North Hamgyong Province. It is also believed to have been successfully flight tested several times over the years as a vertical probe within the DPRK’s territory after all how else would the actual range performance of the deployed system No-dong-B be known. This is over and above the known test flight out of Iran previously acknowledged.

Advent of the KN-08 LRICBM No-dong-C Development Progress and its Engines Applied to the NK-SL-X Booster

It was reported on the 24 hour news channel, “YTN TV of Seoul, South Korea quoted an intelligence source as saying “the communist state carried out four tests over 16 weeks until early this year 2012 to develop an inter-continental missile at a test facility at Musudan-ri on the northeastern coast.” And that “The tests were aimed at improving engines and propellant fuel for the missile, code-named KN-08, the source said.” (75)

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 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles)” This identifies the KN-08 as a limited range ICBM (LRICBM) class. (75)

The KN-08 boosters stage engines have been static test fired four times over sixteen weeks during late 2011 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. These tests were focused on improving the propellant tank immersed closed cycle propulsion performance of the engines before flight testing of the KN-08 commences soon within this Five Year Plan. The applicable propulsion systems being utilized for the KN-08 will in all probability be applied to the NK-SL-X dedicated geostationary space booster’s development program for its performance improvements. That would require at least nine or ten KN-08 first stage engines rated at 50 metric tons thrust each at sea level to accommodate the 400 tonnes launch mass with liftoff equaling 1.125 - 1.25 gee's acceleration from 450- 500 metric tons launch thrust for the NK-SL-X booster first stage.That is more accurately possibly 50,985.81 kilograms force thrust times ten engines = 509,858.10 kilograms thrust force at 1.28 gee's acceleration or at times nine engines = 458,872.29 kg f thrust for 1.15 gee's acceleration.

Pending Experimental Flight Test Regime

The very later news according to the Yonhap News Agency of February 17, 2013 from South Korean multiple government, officials not for attribution on intelligence collected is that North Korea the DPRK has successfully test fired the KN-08/No-dong-C prototype missiles critical first stage engine in static test firings. It was carried out on the Pongdong-ni, or Dongchong-ri or Tongch'ang-dong, Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province static test firing center. This was not carried out on the Musudan-ri, Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground infrastructure in Hwadae County, in North Hamgyong Province R & D dynamic static test center previously used in earlier partially successful test firings as noted above. This testing was carried out during February 11, 2013 shortly before the DPRK carried out its third or fourth nuclear test on February 12, 2013. (88, 89, 90, 91)

This kind of ground testing based on typical past DPRK practices is probably a prelude to the experimental flight test to follow in the next 3-6 months or within one year of the test firings of the flight test engines. This fits within the DPRK mid Five Year Plan cycle when the test flights are expected. Once the engines are cleaned up from being disassembled and reassembled for flight they would be installed into the operational experiment flight test vehicle that is then shipped to the launch site for its flight demonstration.


Then Secretary of Defense, Leon E. Panetta expressed concerns about the perceived early DPRK country wide dispersal deployment of the KN-08 / No-dong-C semi-mobile ICBM’s which is entirely explainable as noted below under the Purpose of Six or more Ground Test Models of the KN-08’s [No-dong-C]. (92) See http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/kn-08.htm

The question To Ask of U. S. intelligence and DoD has it been flight tested vertically like a sounding rocket inside the DPRK or Iran and or what have they not told us? The same question especially applies to the South Korean officials of the Minister of Defense and executive branch? This applies to the No-dong-B and KN-08 ballistic missiles.

On March 12, 2013 DNI the honorable James R. Clapper stated before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the ..."last April it displayed what appears to be a rogue mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. We believe North Korea has already taken initial steps towards fielding this system, although it remains untested. "

Makeayev OKB Heritage Implication of Continued Developments Unexplained

The NK-SL-X has a V. P. Makeyev OKB heritage design wise but it must be presumed as reflecting a very real system that is in the advanced stages of development that will exceed the Taepo-dong-2m Unha-9 space booster capability. There can be no further doubt about the ongoing Makeyev OKB technology transfer in North Korea based on the entire previous systems heritage. That heritage goes back to the Scud-B through Taep’o-dong-2 / Unha-9 technology, and personnel technology transfer that took place in the Gorbachev era. It strongly suggests that the Makeyev personnel remaining are still working on DPRK missile systems. We now have a consistent Acad. V. P. Makeyev OKB launch vehicle and Acad. A. M. Isayev; OKB -2 propulsion design heritage for the following systems that have flown in flight test except for the latest last two in research and development: They are as follows:

Acad. V. P. Makeyev OKB DPRK Heritage Missile Systems:

Scud-B TBM Success
Scud-C TBM Hwasong-5 Success
Scud-ER TBM Hwasong-6 Success
No dong-A MRBM Success
No dong-B IRBM Success
Taep’o dong-1 Space booster Unha-1 Failure
Taep’o dong-2/Unha-3, Unha-9, R & D Space booster Unha-2, 3, =3 Failures, 1 success
NK-SL-X Dedicated Space Booster Geostationary / Manned L.V. R & D
KN-08 LRICBM to replace TD-2 [No-dong-C (cpv)] ? R & D

TBM-Tactical Ballistic missile, MRBM-Medium Range Ballistic Missile, IRBM- Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, LRICBM – Limited Range Inter-continental Ballistic Missile

South Korea ministry of defense says the KN-08 LRICBM has a range of 6,000 kilometers essentially matching the TD-2 performance.  The KN-08 is based on the Russian Makeyev OKB RSM-40/RSM-50 SLBM’s design heritage direct copies technology transfer modifications. It is interesting to note they are still having trouble developing space boosters which is not their experience base but they have been highly successful developing ballistic missiles.

The DPRK & Iranian Crewed launch Vehicle & Spacecraft as Presently Understood reflect its growth potential designs

This is a tentative analysis through November 2012

It may be too early to speculate on the probability that the crewed spaceflight plans of both Iran and the DPRK have essentially merged that will utilize the dedicated geo-stationary space booster variations and a revised Chinese design heritage reconnaissance spacecraft and capsule for crewed flight in addition to launching planned satellite for both countries. In order to accomplish it geostationary missions with the NK-SL-X space booster its last stages would have to be cable of caring out a considerable plane change prior to geostationary orbital insertion. This in part could be divided between the initial orbital launch stages as well as the parking orbit stages. The basic three stage NK-SL-X three stage booster almost certainly will have some sort of post boost maneuvering stage possibly as a part of the spacecraft payload.

NK-SL-X is expected to be flight test with in this fiscal Five Year Plan 2011-2015 through the middle of the following 2016-2020 Five Year Plan. It is said to be at least 40 meter long as a three to four stage booster with taller versions expected for larger payloads. It could easily grow to a length of 48 meters utilizing three stages while the full crewed flight spacecraft configuration may be 42 meters long utilizing two stages. Its first stage utilized possible nine or ten, KN-08 first stage improved propellant tank immersed fixed and gimbals mounted closed cycle propulsion higher performance engines of 50,985.81 kilograms force thrust times ten = 509,858.10 kilograms thrust force with four steering main thrust chambers engine system to launch the 400 tonnes booster at 1.27 g’s acceleration. The first stage about 3.9 - 4.15 meters in diameter would carry four fins or grates. The second stage is believed to be in the 2.8 meter diameter range while the third stage is believed to be in the 2.2 meter diameter range. Interesting enough the third stage appears to be a combination cylindrical tapered design leading to what has an uncanny appearance of a Chinese design heritage radically redesigned Project-714 reconnaissance spacecraft and capsule. The fourth stage is considered a part of a spacecraft design for crewed flight that bears a strong resemblance to a Chinese design heritage radically redesigned reconnaissance spacecraft and capsule for crewed flight in addition to launching satellite to geo-stationary orbits for both countries. Iran in all probability will develop its own va rent design of this medium heavy lift booster evolving from either the Simorgh series or the No-dong-B heritage system.

The existing Tonghae Satellite Launching Station even larger new heavy lift launch vehicle infrastructure being constructed through this Five Year Plan exhibits the potential first stage growth designs with addition of future follow-on second and third stage diameters matching the first stage diameter in future configuration. That apparently is not the initial configuration upper stages being developed. It literally sports an under construction launch facility with a booster first stage base diameter on the order of 9.5-9.8 meters which could be a NK-SL-X core booster of three stages while utilizing two or four Taep’o-dong-2m or KN-08 derived strap-on first stages as strap-on boosters or a single NK-SL=-X first stage as a strap-on booster among other potential booster design configurations. It would utilize throughout all stages the storable highly toxic hypergolic liquid propellants with a fuel of Unsymmetrical Dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) while its oxidizer is a derivation of [Inhibited Red Fuming nitric Acid (IRFNA) & N204 = AK-27P]. (29)

The flame deflector hole diameter of 4.0 meters and gantry umbilical tower that is well over 40 meters tall (using existing optical len sing that does not take into account the optical for shortening to it real height of in excess of 55.8 meter plus when scaled from the local ground images) on the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province confirmed the boosters overall dimensions. That flame deflector hole is only for the NK-SL-X booster first stage engines but the booster first stage tank age will be larger than that at its base engine boat tail. That diameter could be as much as 3.9 -4.15 meters in diameter with steering main thrust chambers not including potential fins. That 40-45 meter height of the gantry umbilical tower also reflects the expected maximum height range of the planned booster as it is presently understood. The new launch vehicle appears to be entirely consistent with the existing design evolution details with some DPRK released art work of a future launch vehicle as seen on the http://38north.org/2012/04/nhansenfp041112/web site.

PROVISIONAL ESTIMATED: NK-SL-X design based on pad and heritage TD-2B,m, 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.

PROVISIONAL ESTIMATED: NK-SL-X design for crewed flight, though the DPRK has placed emphasis on its un-crewed satellite launch requirements but this in part is based on technology transfer between Iran and the DPRK. Though the DPRK paraded astronaut flight suit and helmets formation in its April 2012 there has been nothing more suggesting this intent.

Separating ICBM’s from Space Boosters and U. S. Policy ERROR ?

Equally the NK-SL-X size does not easily adapt to a semi-mobile ICBM and one ends up wonder if this is not a super space booster only with growth potential but also that it is two different animals being explored here. That is one huge space booster with growth potential but it certainly is not a smaller semi-mobile limited range ICBM that has yet to appear until very recently on April 15, 2012.

It definitely reflects what Iran and the DPRK would need to be a manned space booster. It is however known that Iran is working on Solid propellant longer range missile possible ICBM for its military so perhaps the DPRK will also produce it in the not too distant future as a trade for the large 40 meter long space booster though that is speculation based on some known’ s and a lot if If’s.

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

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. 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. The day we spot a dummy warhead on a DPRK Unha-9 or a Iranian Semorgh multistage booster design the game for both will be over so far as the rest of the world is concerned.


73. The rocket in Kim Jund Un’s Pocket, by Nick Hansen, http://38north.org/2012/04/nhansenfp041112/ & [11] Image: http://38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/NHfig6.jpg , April 12, 2012, p. 1-5

This is the DPRK large 40 meter long dedicated geostationary space booster’s development program, large new growth potential launch infrastructure pad gantry umbilical tower. And Chinese based technology for manned spacecraft development. http://www.iranmilitaryforum.net/space-technology-and-news/dispatching-iranian-astronaut-to-below-200-km-orbit/msg119356/?topicseen#msg119356

20. Gertz, Bill, North Korea making missile able to hit U.S. The Washington Times, Dec. 5, 2011. P. 1-4, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/5/north-korea-making-missile-able-to-hit-us/?page=all

21. Gertz, Bill, Inside The Ring: North Korea’s ICBM, The Washington Times, March 7, 2012, p. 1, http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/7/inside-the-ring-north-koreas-icbm/

22. N. Korea “Building Even Bigger Missile”, The Chosun Ilbo , http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/04/03/2012040300634.html, April 3, 2012, p. 1

23. http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20070130-122437-6559r.htm, Gertz, Bill, How the “axis” seeks the killer missile, The Washington Times, January 30, 2007, p. ?

77. New Launch Facilities Under Construction at Musudan-ri, Possible Iranian Connection, By 38 North, http://38north.org/2012/05/musudan052212/ , May 24, 2012, p. 1-6.

74. N. Korea ?Building Even Bigger Missile’, The Chosun Ilbo, http://english.chosun.com/ , April 3, 2012, p. 1.

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 Legitmate Right to Launch Satellite, KCNA, Pyongyang, DPRK, April 17, 2012, p. 1-2.

76. Iran Military Forum, http://www.iranmilitaryforum.net/space-technology-and-news/dispatching-iranian-astronaut-to-below-200-km-orbit/msg119356/?topicseen#msg119356

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 that was also reported by Yonhap news agency, April 14, 2012, P. 1.

77. Iran plans for manned space flight by 2018 while dismissing monkey business claims, Arabian Aerospace Online News Services, February 7, 2013, p.1.

88. N. Korea tested long-range missile engine before nuke blast soiurces, Yonhap News Agency, Seoul, South Korea, February 19, 2013 p. 1-2.

89 .WAFF, World's Armed Forces Forum, NOKO tests engine for 5,000 km range rocket, February 17, 2012, p. 1.

90. Source: North Korea tested ICBM engine before nuke test, by Akihiko Kaise, Correspondent, AJW, Asahi Shimbo, Seoul, South Korea, February 18, 2013 p.1.

91. N. Korea Tests New Missile Engine Before Nuke Test, The Chosun Ilbo, February 18, 2013, p. 2.

92. Movement of Missiles by North Korea Worries U. S. , by Thom Shanker, and David E. Sanger, The New Youk Times,January 17, 2013, p. 1, 2.

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