North Korea Says Spy Satellite Launch Failed

Launch prompted evacuation orders in S. Korea, Japan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 30, 2023 8:22 PM CDT
North Korea Says Spy Satellite Launch Failed
This satellite picture by Planet Labs PBC shows activity at a newly built launch pad at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station near Tongchang-ri, North Korea, Tuesday, May 30, 2023.   (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

North Korea said its attempt to put the country’s first spy satellite into orbit failed Wednesday, an apparent embarrassment to leader Kim Jong Un over his push to boost his military capability in the protracted security tensions with the United States and South Korea. A statement published in state media said the rocket carrying the satellite crashed into waters off the Korean Peninsula’s western coast after it lost thrust following the separation of its first and second stages. It said scientists were examining the cause of the failure.

The rocket was launched about 6:30am from the northwestern Tongchang-ri area, where North Korea’s main space launch center is located, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. South Korea’s military said the rocket had "an abnormal flight" before it fell in the waters. It also said it bolstered its military readiness in close coordination with the United States. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that no object was believed to have reached space. The North Korean launch had prompted brief evacuation orders in South Korea and Japan. Seoul issued alerts over public speakers and cellphone text messages telling residents to prepare for evacuation. But there were no reports of damages or major disruption and the city later lifted the alert.

The Japanese government activated a missile warning system for its Okinawa prefecture in southwestern Japan, believed to be in the path of the rocket, the AP reports. "Please evacuate into buildings or underground," the alert said. Authorities later lifted the calls for evacuation. A top North Korean official had said Tuesday that the country needed a space-based reconnaissance system to counter escalating security threats from South Korea and the United States. The US strongly condemned North Korea for the launch, which used ballistic missile technology in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

(Read more North Korea stories.)

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