December 2, 2012
North Korea To Launch Satellite Before The End Of The Year
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
North Korea announced Saturday that they would attempt to launch a long-range rocket before the end of the year, just eight months after a failed attempt to do so was condemned by a United Nations ban prohibiting the nation from developing nuclear and missile programs.
According to The Guardian, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced that a rocket transporting a planetary observation satellite would be launched from a space center on the northwestern coast of the country sometime between December 10 and December 22. The launch will occur at about the same time as the South Korean presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 19.
"It will be the country's second attempt to launch a rocket since Kim Jong-un came to power nearly a year ago, following his father Kim Jong-il's death. A rocket launch in April was aborted but drew condemnation from Washington and Seoul," the UK newspaper reported. "North Korea maintains the launches are for peaceful purposes, although Washington and Seoul believe it is testing long-range missile technology, with the aim of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead."
A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology claims that the program's experts have "analyzed the mistakes" that resulted in the failed April launch, and that their Unha rocket has been improved since that time, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
Furthermore, the agency said that the launch vehicle's payload will be "a polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite," and asserted that they have a "right to develop a peaceful space program," the wire service added.
The announcement has drawn a wide array of reactions. Physicists with the Union of Concerned Scientists have expressed doubts that North Korean engineers have been able to successfully fix the problems with the Unha rocket, while a US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told the AP that the launch would be "a highly provocative act" and a "direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions."
The announcement also comes roughly 48 hours after South Korea was forced to cancel the launch of the first satellite from its own territory, according to the AP's Foster Klug. Scientists from that country cited unspecified technical difficulties as the reason for the cancellation of that planned launch.