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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

North Korea’s spy satellite launch: All you need to know


North Korea has said it successfully launched a military spy satellite on its third attempt in six months.

State media said the rocket took off at 10.42pm (13:42 GMT) on Tuesday night from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station and “accurately put the reconnaissance satellite Malligyong-1 on its orbit” about 12 minutes later, state-run news agency KCNA reported.


The launch came just hours after Pyongyang had notified Japan of its intention to launch a satellite between November 22 and December 1.

Officials in neighbouring countries as well as experts around the world are now trying to verify the claim, which would be a breach of longstanding United Nations resolutions imposed over North Korea’s nuclear programme.

Here’s what we know:

Was it a success?

State media certainly wanted to show that it was, publishing photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiling broadly following the launch, surrounded by cheering scientists and engineers in white uniforms.

Attempts in May and August to launch the satellite, a key part of Kim’s military modernisation plans, ended in failure with the rocket plunging into the sea.

North Korea’s neighbours and their allies are taking a cautious approach to its purported success this time.


Japan said it was still analysing the launch and “at this point is not confirming whether the satellite had entered into an orbit around the Earth”, chief government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said.

South Korea and the United States said their militaries were also assessing the launch.

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