North Korea has announced that it successfully launched a military spy satellite into orbit, marking its third attempt at doing so. The satellite was launched at 10:42 p.m. local time and supposedly went into orbit at 10:54 p.m. However, the South Korean military has not confirmed if the satellite made it to orbit. The satellite launch is seen as a way for North Korea to monitor “enemy” military activities in real-time.
The satellite launch vehicle used by North Korea has technologies that are interchangeable with ballistic missiles, including long-range ones capable of reaching the entire continental United States. This has raised concerns among neighboring countries and the international community.
The previous two attempts to launch the satellite, named Chollima-1, in May and August were unsuccessful in getting the satellite into orbit. Despite these failures, North Korea has consistently emphasized its “legitimate” right to strengthen its “self-defensive capabilities” and has stated that further spy satellite launches will take place soon.
The international community has condemned North Korea for using ballistic missile technology in its space launch vehicle. The Japanese Prime Minister’s office reported that a ballistic missile passed over the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa into the Pacific Ocean during the satellite launch.
South Korea’s military has studied the debris from the previous failed launch and determined that North Korea’s satellite is not advanced enough to conduct space-based reconnaissance. However, North Korea’s official space agency has described the satellite program as an “indispensable” measure to counter the perceived attempt of “space militarization” by the United States.
The successful satellite launch comes amidst increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and highlights the importance of North Korea’s relationship with other countries, including Russia.