Boy, it sure is bright and clear outside today! Mmm… With that refreshingly cold air! What is one to do on such a fine day? LAUNCH A SATELLITE INTO SPACE!
That’s right! It’s even been confirmed:
So much for taking it a part for repairs. You know what’s even more sad? Now that the launch has taken place, how the hell are we going to commemorate the death of the Dear Leader? Yeah, pretty much caught everybody off guard. I really thought they were going to honor him on that day with a flurry of
missiles satellite launches. I guess the idea of a space race between the North and the South was right. I mean, when they said, “Between December 10-23rd”, I didn’t think they meant “December 11th” (December 11th in the US, December 12th in Korea)!
Corollary: December 14, 2012
“I feel shame and anger at the same time because my country couldn’t succeed this year even though we are far more developed than North Korea,” said high school senior S.L. Kim. She also worried that the launch’s success might fuel a nuclear arms race in the region. “I’ve read news that Japan is debating nuclear development and there are more and more advocates,” said Kim. “This may further that situation.”
Sweet! Arms race!
Well, I guess this just came at the right time, considering the US is getting ready to sell Aegis to the Japanese, this will ease Japanese JMSDF concerns over North Korea slightly. And the Russians are in turn enhancing their anti-missile defenses. I mean, you know, that is, if the DPRK were to ever use this rocket technology for military purposes instead of launching a peaceful satellite… Which you know, would never happen… Of course!
But wait! Now the DPRK will have to deal with Chinese and American attitudes towards this:
You know, China says to the rest of the world, “We believe North Korea has the sovereign right to launch a satellite for peaceful purposes” and then screams at the North Koreans and says, “YOU LAUNCHED A SATELLITE USING A ROCKET?!?!?! In SPACE?!?!?!” Yes, in space. Then there’s America with all sorts of ways of saying, “We hate this.” At least NORAD confirmed it happened though.
Oh, and of course, there’s the South Koreans. Boy are they gonna’ shit their pants on this one:
Heck, I guess it’s really bad when even the Canadians are so pissed they’ve issued warnings:
“We are extremely concerned about North Korea’s plan to test a long-range ballistic missile.
“Canada strongly warns North Korea against this provocation, which clearly violates its obligations under successive UN Security Council resolutions and constitutes a threat to regional peace and security.
Oh… Canadians! Even their warnings seem so mild-tempered!
Well, this has made for an exciting day. Beats staring at a jeep all day! Time to go retrieve the scraps!
Oh, as a parting note, US Space Command is tracking 3 objects from the DPRK Launch:
Minus the fully-declared failure of the last launch, I’m guessing the total of 3 objects could mean that they can make up for the other 2 failures (that were deemed successes). But then of course, who cares what I think? I’m just reading tea leaves anyways!
All this, makes for a good early Christmas present for someone, I guess…
UPDATE: December 12, 2012
Things they improved upon from this launch:
Compared to previous launches, it managed to shoot up 13,000km, and then the three stages actually separated successfully. Now some are worried that if they can successfully re-enter the earth, they’ll have an ICBM. Now, there are doubts as to whether or not the objects they put into orbit are actually satellites. Some have said that what they put up was merely 100kg, and is too small for a satellite. But if you look at this site:
For many other applications, there have been trends towards smaller spacecraft, with particular emphasis on reducing cost and development time scales. For the purpose of these pages, a mass below 500kg is considered a small satellite, however the mission development philosophy is also relevant, to distinguish the new generation of small satellites from the more traditional small satellites that typified the early exploration of space.
The spirit of the small satellite world has been encompassed by the slogan “Faster, Better, Smaller Cheaper”, although various high profile failures of NASA spacecraft have made this phrase less popular . Nevertheless, small satellite projects are characterised by rapid development scales for experimental missions when compared with the conventional space industry, with kick-off to launch schedules ranging from just six to thirty-six months. Leading-edge or terrestrial COTS technology is routinely employed in order to provide innovative solutions and cheaper alternatives to the established methods and systems. As such they permit lighter satellite systems to be designed inside smaller volumes. Frequently, traditional procedures, with roots in the military and manned space programmes, can no longer be justified, and low cost solutions are favoured to match the reducing space budgets. So in many ways “Faster, Better, Smaller, Cheaper” is a philosophy and an objective in small satellite programmes.
Many terms are used to describe this rediscovered class of satellites, including SmallSat, Cheapsat, MicroSat, MiniSat, NanoSat and even PicoSat and FemtoSat! The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency refers to these as LightSats, the U.S. Naval Space Command as SPINSat’s (Single Purpose Inexpensive Satellite Systems), and the U.S. Air Force as TACSat’s (Tactical Satellites). Nevertheless, in recent years a general method of classifying satellites in terms of deployed mass has been generally adopted. The boundaries of these classes are an indication of where launcher or cost tradeoffs are typically made, which is also why the mass is defined including fuel (‘Wet mass’).
Within this classification, the term “Small Satellite” is used to cover all spacecraft with in-orbit mass of less than 500kg. The small satellites we are concerned with throughout these pages are therefore satellites weighing approximately less than 500kg.
Ha! I told you that they were doing recovery operations! Only the portion of the Unha missile, the part where it says “Ha” was recovered.
DailyNK has noted that there are now some worries that the North Korean satellite might crash into other satellites:
In it, they quoted a Gizmodo article:
After failing miserably on numerous occasions, North Korea has finally put a satellite in orbit. But according to US officials, it is now “tumbling out of control.” This is bad news, and more bad news, covered in a double layer of extra bad news.
Like that picture? You can find more pictures of the Brilliant Leader at the command of the missile launch here:
And, there is much rejoice in North Korea:
This is the best explanation of the timing of the launch thus far:
The launch on Wednesday by North Korea of a rocket came five days before the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death and early in the government’s stated window, which extended to December 22…
With South Korea’s election on the 19th, it seems a strange time to stir the pot, given that the launch would, if anything, hurt the liberal candidate. It is his policies that will most benefit Pyongyang. Like everywhere, though, domestic concerns trump international ones when it comes to political calculations.
Though this casts a shadow on North Korea’s big year, the meta-slogan was and remains “A Strong and Prosperous Country”. Initially, it was suggested that 2012 would be the year the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would become that strong and prosperous country. This got revised downward to a slightly more plausible: “2012 will be the year when the doors to becoming a strong and prosperous country will be thrown open”.
Until North Koreans see significant material changes, however, the government has to lean on the “strong” part of “strong and prosperous” for both legitimacy and inspiration. With the admitted failure of April’s launch, the pressure would have been on to try again and succeed, both from a propaganda and military imperative.
From Pyongyang’s perspective, then, it is probably unfortunate that the election in the South just happens to be when it is. They would certainly have preferred different timing and if it were up to them the election date would be different. But they have judged that the symbolic and military value of a successful launch – which they were quick to state it was – was simply too high. Closing out 2012 and marking the anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death with a bang – or something close to one – was vital.
Also, for South Korean voters, North Korea is only one of a basket of concerns. Pyongyang, probably correctly, has wagered that the missile test won’t be a decisive factor in the minds of the electorate and won’t drive too many moderates towards Park Geun-hye. Moreover, a significant majority can probably be counted on to blame Lee Myung-bak for the launch anyway. His harder line is generally considered a failure and a big contributor to strained inter-Korean relations.
In this regard it is actually better that a launch take place just before the election rather than afterwards. If Park wins and begins to shape her “trustpolitik” towards the North, a rocket test would scupper trust building nearly immediately. Similarly, if Pyongyang’s preferred candidate, Moon, is elected, a fresh test would put him under pressure. As it is, it will be two months before one or the other takes office.
It’s an important moment for Kim Jong-eun’s budding leadership. A successful test can be used to keep his military happy and confident as well as to inspire his citizens. A pro-North newspaper in Japan, Choson Sinbo, had confidently reported that North Korean scientists had identified and solved within one week the problem that caused the failure of the April launch. Yet there were clearly some jitters in the last few days as North Korea announced the test might have to be delayed in order to resolve unspecified issues. That delay didn’t happen.
So despite all this, some people don’t think the launch is all that scary:
In other news, 4 North Koreans who managed to float to Japan were returned to North Korea:
Guess they didn’t want to defect like the other guys. Or maybe after seeing the other North Koreans who defected to the South, only to come back, changed their minds? We’ll never know.
Notice in the videos, they’re using VLC. Awesome!
UPDATE December 16, 2012
Thanks, North Korea Tech!
UPDATE: December 28, 2012
Well, I guess there’s a reason why NORAD was tracking
That satellite they sent up broke up into several pieces.