A broadcast showing the launch of a North Korean rocket at Seoul Station in South Korea on May 31, 2023.
North Korea’s attempt to launch a military satellite into orbit ended in failure as the rocket malfunctioned mid-flight, setting off air raid sirens in neighboring countries. The launch attempt was condemned as a violation of international agreements, but North Korea says it is determined to make a second attempt soon.
The Chollima-1 rocket was launched at 5:27 p.m. ET Tuesday (6:27 a.m. local time Wednesday) from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, carrying the Malligyong-1 spy satellite, North Korean news agency KCNA reported. The rocket lost thrust after first stage separation due to an “abnormal engine start” on the vehicle’s second stage which may have been caused by engine and fuel system instability, according to KCNA.
Following its malfunction, the rocket fell and crashed into the sea off the west coast of the Korean peninsula. Its crash triggered a false state of emergency in parts of South Korea and Japan, triggering air raid alarms and evacuation warnings.
North Korea is trying to salvage rocket parts from the sea and investigate the exact cause of the anomaly in a bid to fix any problems before attempting a second launch of the satellite, KCNA reported.
Even before the rocket crashed into the sea, its launch was deemed controversial due to an international ban on North Korea using ballistic missile technology. Ahead of Wednesday’s launch, North Korea announced its next attempt to launch its first military reconnaissance satellite between May 31 and June 11, its purpose being to monitor U.S. military activities.
The United States joined Japan and South Korea in condemning the launch of North Korea’s military reconnaissance satellite, calling it an attempt by North Korea to advance its missile program. In a statement on Tuesday, the White House condemned the launch as “a brazen violation of several UN Security Council resolutions, increases tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond.” Japan was on high alert before the launch, ordering its Self-Defense Force to shoot down the satellite if it entered Japanese territory, the Japan Times reported.
Wednesday’s failed launch was North Korea’s sixth satellite launch attempt, but the first in six years. The country currently has two satellites in orbit, but no spy satellites are present.
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