Wednesday, December 12, 2012

North Korean "Object" "Tumbling Out of Control", Says US Officials

The US says it is not sure what it is that North Korea launched into space on December 11. China expresses regret. South Koreans protest.

From MSNBC (12/12/2012; part, emphasis is mine):

North Korean satellite 'tumbling out of control,' US officials say

The object that North Korea sent into space on Wednesday appears to be “tumbling out of control” as it orbits the earth, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The officials said that it is indeed some kind of space vehicle, but they still haven’t been able to determine exactly what the satellite is supposed to do.

In a statement, the White House said the rocket launch was a highly provocative act that threatens regional security and violates U.N. resolutions.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned the launch, calling it a "clear violation" of U.N. resolutions. A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he "deplores" the launch.

North Korea is banned from conducting missile and nuclear tests, under the terms of U.N. sanctions imposed after a series of nuclear weapons tests in 2006 and 2009.

Missile warning systems detected the launch at 7:49 p.m. ET Tuesday. North American Aerospace Defense Command officials said in a statement that the initial indications were that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea and the second stage fell into the Philippine Sea.

North Korea said the launch was an attempt to place a satellite into a pole-to-pole orbit. Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency said that the rocket was fired from the Sohae Satellite Launch Center on the secretive country's west coast, and that the Kwangmyongsong weather satellite went into orbit as planned.

But U.S. officials say the launch was a thinly veiled attempt to test a three-stage ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as the U.S. West Coast.

Russia added its voice to the condemnation of the launch and also called on other nations to refrain from further escalating tensions.

"The new rocket launch carried out by North Korea flaunts the opinion of the international community, including calls from the Russian side," it said.

China, North Korea's only major diplomatic ally, said officials had urged Pyongyang not to go ahead with the launch, and expressed regret that it had taken place.

(Full article at the link)

MSNBC also has a video showing South Koreans protesting the "object" launch by North Korea:

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Anonymous said...

Totally expected it to fail miserably.

Anonymous said...

The US and the former USSR have a lot of experience with thinly veiled attempts to test ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warheads. The Russian R-7 was used to put Sputnik and the first man in space. The US countered with the PGM-11 Redstone missile that was later used to launch America's first Earth satellite and first two astronauts.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Thanks anon at 8:07AM for the link. I think I figured out the Japanese semantic obsession. To many of them, particularly women, the word "missile" means it's a weapon, it's dangerous, it's threatening, it's war-like, it's bad, while the word "rocket" means it's technology, it's peaceful, it's not threatening, it's good. Throw in the idea of "poor North Korean people, they deserve a good satellite".

Another head-in-the-sand moment.

Atomfritz said...

This satellite failure doesn't throw a good light on North Korea's progress.

It reminds me of the spectacular nationwide-TV-transmitted American Vanguard TV3 failure ("Kaputnik") on Dec 6, 1957. [*]

Remember, then the US attempted to counter the Soviet Sputnik (based on Nazi German technology) with an own satellite, using an indigenous (US developed) rocket to deploy.
This kind of start into the space age was traumatic to the Americans. [**]

At that time the American scientists forgot their rivalries with the German scientists around Wernher von Braun, and asked them for help.
So their next attempt with a new, renamed satellite shot ("Explorer I") was successful, using a rocket designed by the German team, based on the German world's first ICBM "Aggregat 4b".

During WW II from Peenemuende there were three test launches, the first two were failures at Dec 27, 1944 and on Jan 8, 1945. The third launch at Jan 24, 1945 was successful. Further tests were impossible because of Nazi Germany's capitulation short time later.

Compare this with North Korea's puny performance, four tests in six years, and even the last one was a half failure.

Nazi Germany scheduled their A10 ICBM, which could have transported a payload of 1000kg (sufficient for a large nuclear bomb) to New York, for operational readiness in 1948.

If one compares this with the North Korean performance, I think it's more probable that there will rather be a North Korean Nedelin event [****] than an operational nuclear ICBM in the next decades.

But the Americans will for sure still be paranoic that this tumbling space junk could be disguised FOBS [*****] missiles targeting the US...


Anonymous said...

You can be sure the North Koreans have already suffered Nedelin like catastrophes no country has made it to space without their own share of failures but like the former USSR failures in NK are top state secrets. As for the FOBS issue the usefulness of the FOBS declined very rapidly, as the US deployed early warning satellites capable of tracking missile launch signatures, and the expanded coverage BMEWS network, with the new phased array AN/FPS-115 PAVE PAWS detection and precision tracking radars.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the trajectory, it was the same as the last failed launch while this one actually succeeded to deliver its payload into orbit. That is a success by any measure using conventional rockets.
It is legal as well since it did not technically violate any country's airspace. Of course, it would be better if NK has given some notice but they "had" to test the western world's tracking/detection system. Still, we are not getting much data from the western media except a lot of childish scorn and criticism which are silly really.

Why would NK want to attack any country other than Japan or China (they would not dare on either)?. Young Kim wants some global respect and attention and he has got some. Let it rest. They burned millions on these rockets. Their loss really. Or the price to get some international respect is this high!.

Anonymous said...

They clearly could use a pocket calculator!

Anonymous said...

"That is a success by any measure using conventional rockets."

Not really, unless their objective was to orbit an out of control tumbling mass. If some one in the West did the same it would be considered a failure getting the rocket to orbit is only half the battle. If you can't accurately aim and control a satellite then you don't have much hope reliably nuking anybody. This piece of space junk is just another threat to legitimate space faring nations. The next attempt should be shot down in the boost phase.

"It is legal as well since it did not technically violate any country's airspace".

Wrong! United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 IS legally binding as is any Security Council resolutions made under chapter VII (ask Saddam Hussein). As a member of the UN North Korea is subject to its security rules.

“Security Council Resolutions are legally binding if they are made under Chapter VII (Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression) of the Charter”.

It doesn't matter whether North Korea is actually trying to peacefully use space or not the World has decided anything to do with long range rockets is verboten to them. There is talk of forcing North Korea to use Chinese launch vehicles for any future NK satellite deployments but this would entirely depend on China forcing their hand.

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