A North Korean Chollima-1 rocket has reportedly placed an optical reconnaissance satellite into LEO after being launched at 1342 GMT on 21 November. The mission lifted off from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, in the north-west of the Korean peninsula, and was overseen by the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA). It flew into a 97.4 degree 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit.
The spacecraft, identified as “Malligyong-1”, will contribute to “ramping up the war preparedness of the armed forces of the Republic” and its launch is the nation’s “legitimate right”, according to North Korean state media.
Although heralded as a success, the launch was the third attempt after previous bids, in May and August, ended in failures. The successful placement into orbit of Malligyong-1 was confirmed through its detection by the US Space Command.
North Korea also reported its intention to launch several more reconnaissance satellites “in a short span of time” on its southward passage.
The launch itself is reported to have used a complicated “double dog leg” trajectory to avoid overflying Chinese airspace.