North Korea's military spy satellite goes kaput in sky, saves Japan a Patriot Missile

The Chollima-1 satellite vehicle rocket suffered a propulsion failure in the West Sea following the usual separation of the first stage.
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Left: Kim Jong Un - Supreme leader of North Korea. Right: Stock photo of space satellite accident.
Left: Kim Jong Un - Supreme leader of North Korea. Right: Stock photo of a falling satellite.

Wikimedia Commons/Petrovich9/iStock 

North Korea's attempt to launch a military spy satellite has failed after the rocket went kaput in the second stage, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The Chollima-1 satellite vehicle rocket suffered a propulsion failure in the West Sea following the usual separation of the first stage, KCNA reported on Wednesday. 

The engine system's reliability and stability were noted as low, while the fuel utilized was deemed unstable, resulting in the mission's failure.

"The launch sparked emergency warnings on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa and in the South Korean capital Seoul, where the city briefly issued an evacuation warning in error," said a Guardian news report. 

According to KCNA, the North Korean National Space Development Agency announced plans to launch another rocket after conducting fresh testing and urgent investigations into the incident. 

The launch had both South and North Korea in a frenzy 

In the meantime, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Eocheong Island, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff discovered an object in the water that they believe to be a component of North Korea's space launch vehicle.

The military of South Korea and North Korea both canceled emergency alerts after it became clear that there was no danger to civilian areas from what Pyongyang said was a launch of a "space projectile."

The episode, according to analysts, revealed difficulties for both North and South Korea. In contrast to its successful ballistic missile systems, North Korea's space program demonstrated ongoing failures. On the other hand, the timing of the emergency alerts and the public alert system in South Korea drew criticism.

While North Korea's missile program has advanced, as evidenced by its multiple ballistic missile tests, its space launch capabilities have not. This difference is brought to light by the most recent botched launch, according to a CNN report

The North Korean launch activated air raid sirens and mobile phone alerts in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, first confusing locals who were used to pre-announced warning system tests during daylight hours. 

A 33-year-old mother named Kim, who resides in Seoul, told the BBC that she was "very scared" when she received the emergency notice and immediately began packing her bags to leave.

"I didn't believe there would be a war, but after the war in Ukraine, it made me think that North Korea or China might invade [South] Korea," she said, adding she thought Pyongyang had "lost its mind" and launched an invasion.

The Interior Ministry claimed that the Seoul municipal administration erroneously issued the notice, which was later revoked.

"It is impressive when the North Korean regime actually admits failure, but it would be difficult to hide the fact of a satellite launch failure internationally, and the regime will likely offer a different narrative domestically," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. 

"This outcome also suggests that Pyongyang may stage another provocation soon, in part to make up for today's setback."

Japan and South Korea condemned the launch 

Both the South Korean and Japanese governments condemned the launch, pointing out how it violated many UN Security Council resolutions.

The launch was fiercely opposed by the Japanese Defense Ministry, which had previously threatened to destroy any North Korean missile that approached its borders, and it vowed to continue keeping a close eye on things.

Japan had urged North Korea to refrain from such a launch and assured it would take "destructive measures" against ballistic or any other missile that would land in its territory. The country said it would deploy the  Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) or Patriot Missile PAC-3 to take down the North Korean missile.

Five satellites have been launched by Pyongyang since 1998, as per reports, three failed immediately, and two looked to be in orbit but whose signals have never been independently detected, suggesting they may have had problems.

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