North Korea Satellite Died Just After Launch

It's dead and tumbling in orbit, astronomers say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2012 12:04 AM CST
North Korea Satellite Now Space Junk
A Unha-3 rocket carrying a satellite is launched on the outskirts of Pyongyang last Wednesday.   (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video)

The Kwangmyongsong satellite North Korea sent into orbit last week has already become just another piece of space junk, experts believe. Astronomers say the satellite is tumbling in orbit and failing to emit broadcasts, signs that it probably died soon after the launch, the New York Times reports. The washing-machine-sized satellite is believed to carry a small camera for observing the Earth, which would require it to remain steady.

Astronomers have been unable to detect any signals at all from the satellite, including the patriotic North Korean songs it was supposed to be broadcasting. But while the satellite is most likely dead, experts believe it won't be crashing to Earth any time soon. "It’s going to be up there for at least a few years," an astronomer in Toronto says. "The real question is whether the satellite is functioning. Right now, it looks like it’s rotating aimlessly." (Read more North Korea stories.)

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