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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

North Korea Missile Test
Caught On Camera!

05 April 2009

There is an old saying among imagery analysts that "when you want the satellite it is on the wrong side of the planet and when you finally get the image its cloud covered." Not in this case.

Taken by the Digital Globe Worldview-1 satellite about 102 minutes before the satellite ended up in sea-synchronous orbit, this image demonstrates the power of being in the right place at the right time.

One has to wonder if the launch was timed to coincide with the Digital Globe satellite which travels at 4 miles per second.

This image released by Digital Globe showed the contrail and rocket plume of the North Korean U'nha 2 / Taepo Dong 2 launch vehicle carrying the Kwangmyongsong 2 (Bright Lodestar 2 ) satellite.

According to KCNA, North Korean General Secretary Kim Jong Il visited the General Satellite Control and Command Centre to watch the process of launching the experimental communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2. After being briefed on the satellite launch, he then observed the whole process of the satellite launch at the centre.

The multistage rocket failed to deliver its payload into orbit. The rocket's first stage fell into the Sea of Japan. According to NORAD and USNORTHCOM, the remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean, with no object entering orbit and no debris falling on Japan. The Japanese government, however, later indicated they might look to recover pieces of the launch vehicle that had landed in the Pacific Ocean to the west of Japan.

According to Rodong Sinmun of KCNA the launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 was successful and marked a historic event, which fully demonstrated the national power of the DPRK.


The North arrow which appeared in the first image on the GlobalSecurity.org website annotating the North Korean U'nha 2 rocket in flight was incorrectly pointing almost 90 degrees to the West. The new image depicts the North arrow 18.7 degrees to the right of the top of the image.

North arrows are used to orient the general user, and are not to be used for navigation. The image that was provided by Digital Globe was not a geotiff nor did it have any geocoding data attached. Tim Brown takes full responsibility for the error.

Imagery Source: Digital Globe

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:39:01 ZULU