North Korea is reportedly making preparations for its third attempt this year to launch a reconnaissance satellite. In May and August, the country’s previous attempts ended in failure. North Korea has notified Japan that it plans to launch a satellite between Wednesday and December 1, which has been met with criticism from Japan and South Korea due to a violation of a U.N. ban on missile development.
North Korea has launched a total of six satellites since 1998, with two of them thought to have successfully reached orbit. However, there is debate regarding whether these satellites transmitted any data. The country has expressed its ambition to develop more advanced satellites and even “plant the flag of (North Korea) on the moon” by 2020.
During a party congress in January 2021, leader Kim Jong Un revealed plans to develop military reconnaissance satellites. The upcoming satellite launch, known as Chollima-1, appears to be a new design using the dual-nozzle liquid-fueled engines developed for Pyongyang’s Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The United States and its allies have condemned North Korea’s satellite launches, as they view them as clear violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting the development of technology related to ballistic missiles. However, North Korea argues that its space program and defense activities are its sovereign right.
Experts suggest that the successful launch of satellites would provide North Korea with better intelligence capabilities and allow them to keep up with other countries in the region that are advancing their own space technologies. These satellites could be used to target or assess damages in South Korea and Japan or potentially reduce tensions by providing stability and verification of non-aggression from the United States and its allies.
While the upcoming satellite launch raises concerns and controversy, it highlights North Korea’s continued pursuit of space technology despite international sanctions and condemnation.