North Korea’s new satellite control center has been located.
Thanks to TV images broadcast on state television, Curtis Melvin was quickly able to match the building with one he’d been observing under construction in central Pyongyang. He reports it’s in the Pothonggang District and estimates the size at about 570 square meters.
Satellite images available through Google Earth indicate construction was begun sometime between April 13 and July 3, 2014.
It took over a clearing that had been cut out of the surrounding forest for several years.
North Korea has built a new satellite control center, according to state-run media reports on Sunday.
Existence of the center was revealed with news that Kim Jong Un visited the site recently. The exact date of the visit or its location wasn’t disclosed.
A little of the center could be seen in images carried by KCNA.
The Gaofen-1 satellite has been used to discover “about 10″ such crossings both on the China-DPRK border and in the Xinjiang Uygur region of northwest China, said China Daily reported, quoting the China National Space Administration.
The satellite has also been used to spot poppy plantations in Heilongjiang and Hebei provinces, marijuana growing in Jilin province and suspected oil smuggling off the coast of Fujian province. More >
Most people who read this blog will be familiar with the image of the two Koreas at nighttime by a NASA satellite
On January 30, 2014, an astronaut on the International Space Station used a Nikon D3S camera to capture a new image of the Korean peninsula at 10:16 pm — one that’s even more dramatic than the monochrome NASA satellite image of old.
As NASA says, “The darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan. Its capital city, Pyongyang, appears like a small island, despite a population of 3.26 million (as of 2008). The light emission from Pyongyang is equivalent to the smaller towns in South Korea.”
“Coastlines are often very apparent in night imagery, as shown by South Korea’s eastern shoreline. But the coast of North Korea is difficult to detect. These differences are illustrated in per capita power consumption in the two countries, with South Korea at 10,162 kilowatt hours and North Korea at 739 kilowatt hours.” More >
North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper on Saturday criticized the recent launch of a new spy satellite by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, according to a report on the state-run Korea Central News Agency.
The classified satellite, called NROL-65, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on August 28 into an orbit that is used by spy satellites.
Not much is known about the satellite, but it’s thought to be the latest addition to the Keyhole constellation of reconnaissance satellites. As such, it will likely strengthen the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to look into North Korea.
Thus, the Minju Joson isn’t pleased.
It is as clear as a pikestaff that the spy satellite would be used for the purpose of the aggressive and warlike foreign policy of the U.S. aiming to dominate the world.
The U.S. is attaching weighty significance to the speed and scientific accuracy in collecting information to carry out its aggressive foreign policy. It is paying special attention to rounding off the intelligence-gathering system by spy satellites.
Hence, the U.S. is keen to cover the space with a dense network of its spy satellites and hold supremacy in this aspect, too. — Minju Joson, September 14, 2013, via KCNA
It wasn’t so long ago that North Korea was trying to launch its first spy satellite, called Kwangmyongsong 3.
The first launch, on April 13, 2013, ended in failure but the second, on December 12, 2012, was successful. Unfortunately for Pyongyang, the satellite appears to have suffered a total failure and was delivered into orbit inoperable.
The newspaper editorial also singled out a recent test by Raytheon of its SM-6 missile interceptor. Two were fired from the USS Chancellorsville and successfully engaged two cruise missies target drones in the missile’s first over-the-horizon test scenario at sea.
It is by no means accidental that some time ago the U.S. launched two “SM-6″ interceptor missiles from its navy ship “Chancellorsville”.
It is the military strategic scenario of the U.S. to take an unchallenged edge in the field of strategic and offensive weapons by combining the intelligence-gathering system by spy satellites and the interceptor missile system. — Minju Joson, September 14, 2013, via KCNA
Here’s video of the NROL-65 launch and some file video of the USS Chancellorsville.
The Supreme People’s Assembly on Monday also voted into effect a law on space development, reported KCNA without detailing the law.
The news was reported by KCNA but there were few details on the bureau or who would head it. The Korean Committee of Space Technology had previously been the top body on space development and whether it will continue was also not clear.
The decision of the SPA was reported in brief form by the state-run news agency:
The DPRK is a full-fledged satellite manufacturer and launcher.
It is an invariable stand of the DPRK to develop the country into a world-class space power by exercising its legitimate right to space development for peaceful purposes.
To step up economic construction and improve the people’s standard of living by radically developing the space science and technology of the country and guide and manage all the space activities of the DPRK in a uniform way, the SPA decides as follows:
The DPRK State Space Development Bureau shall be set up.
The bureau is a state central institution which guides and manages the supervision and control over the working out of a space development program and its implementation and space development work in a uniform way.
The Cabinet of the DPRK and other institutions concerned shall take practical measures to implement this decision. — KCNA, April 1, 2013.
North Korea last year angered neighbors and the U.N. Security Council twice by attempting to put satellites into orbit. While the first of those launches is widely believed to have failed, the second succeeded in putting an object into orbit. Despite detecting the satellite, no radio signals were ever observed so it’s suspected the craft suffered a malfunction.
The launch attempts were controversial because they were largely seen as a way to skirt a ban on missile testing, since many rocket components are common to missiles.
The country has repeatedly cried foul saying the satellite launches are just that, but many observers disagree.
The DPRK has submitted registration papers for the recently launched Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The papers were dated January 24 but were only made available this week by the Vienna-based organization. They were submitted by the DPRK’s diplomatic mission in the city.
They don’t provide any new information on the satellite, but are an important political step in North Korea’s continued instance that the launch was for peaceful purposes and that it’s abiding by international space conventions.
In this case, the OOSA’s registration convention calls on member states to furnish basic details about the launch including the time, launch site location and the parameters of the satellite trajectory.
You can see the entire document on the OOSA website.
In this case, the general function of the satellite was described as “Earth observation satellite for surveying crops, forest resources and natural disasters.”
It is the first time the DPRK has submitted launch registration papers for a satellite with the UN OOSA. That makes sense as it’s the country’s first successful space launch, but it serves to highlight previous propaganda claims that earlier launches were successful.
North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, launched on December 12 but apparently silent ever since, has been captured on video by a South African satellite watcher. [UPDATED: See below]
Greg Roberts posted several video clips on YouTube that show reflections of light from the sides the satellite as it orbits the Earth.
The clips are from December 20th and clearly show the flashes of light. The camera was set on a mount to track the satellite’s path, so the stars in the sky move past in the background. As noted in the videos, the camera has some dead pixels that appear continuously white. Ignore those and watch the center of the picture to see the flashes.
The video appears to show some strange movement by the launch but, as Roberts explains:
The satellite was moving faster than my tracking mount could keep up with the satellite as it went through culmination ,and eventually it was able to almost catch up again after passing culmination.
The mount then stopped tracking and the satellite was visible for a few more seconds before it went into earths shadow.
As for the actual satellite itself, there are still no signs of radio life from the craft. (See my previous post noting some of the difficulties in detecting radio signals.)
While there are challenges to hearing Kwangmyongsong-3, the satellite has now made numerous passes over multiple satellite tracking stations — both professional and amateur run — and nothing has been reported. With each pass and each day that goes by, it begins to look increasingly likely that the satellite is either not functioning.
UPDATE: I just came across some analysis of these videos by Marco Langbroek in The Netherlands.
On his SatTrackCam Lieden blog, he includes some image analysis of the video that produces a slightly more accurate flash rate of 8.45 seconds. Take a look.