Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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North Korea

Tyneside, UK
2024 Jul 24
Wednesday, Day 206

Curated by:


Common Threads

Mission 5

Mission 4

Mission 3

Rocket Trajectories

North Korea's Launch Missions

North Korea, as of 2016 February, has made five attempts to launch objects into space. Two have resulted in objects orbiting the Earth although neither seems to have functioned in any fashion. This section of the Zarya website looks at several different parts of the programme.

Some of the earlier pages were published several years ago as speculation but they have stood the test of time. Individual pages can be reached from the left hand menu as well as from within the text.

Common Threads

There are common aspects of the missions emerging from analyses. The first of these is an identified constraint that seems to determine launch windows for either the Unha rocket or the Kwangmyongsong satellites themselves.

Mission 5 - Kwangmyongsong 4

Launched 2016 February, there are pages examining the circumstances of the launch and the resulting orbit, and there is a copy of the official launch announcement translated into English.

Mission 4 - Kwangmyongsong 3-2

Kwangmyongsong 3At the second attempt, North Korea got its Kwangmwongsong 3 satellite into orbit. Referred to officially as "Kwangmyongsong 3 Unit 2", North Korea probably thought the naming to be necessary because of the public failure of the original launch.

Pages look at the launch mission, details of the design of the satellite, Japan's political message through the way the country worded its NOTAM, aspects of the early evolution of the orbit, there is a copy of the official launch announcement translated into English, and a slightly humorous look at how newspapers and other commentators joined the propaganda campaign in less than subtle ways.

Mission 3 - Kwangmyongsong 3-1

Unha to SSFor the original Kwangmyong 3 launch attempt, a page looks at the failure and where the rocket debris fell as well as North Korea's clumsy handling of a visit by western journalists and news forces. There is also a copy of the North Korean NOTAM showing the planned impact zones from the launch.

There is also a page, created before the mission, looking at North Korea's statement that it was headed for sun-synchronous orbit in the light of how a direct ascent to such an orbit would overfly other countries' territory in a dangerous way. On the page, a map shows an estimate of the expected track. In the event. it proved to be a good estimate when compared with a map of the actual trajectory of Kangmyongsong 4 on that mission's web page (above).

Rocket Trajectories

There are some notes on North Korea's launch sites and a comparison between the launch trajectories used by Mission 2 in 2009 and the (at the time) proposed Kwangmyongsong 3 launch.

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