The Japanese Coast Guard has been notified by North Korea that it intends on carrying out a launch sometime between November 22 and December 1, which is believed to by the country’s third attempt at putting a military spy satellite into orbit, according to Kyodo news agency.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff released a statement calling on North Korea to “immediately suspend the current preparations to launch a military spy satellite,” further warning that ” the launch of a military reconnaissance satellite despite our warning, our military will take necessary measures to guarantee the lives and safety of the people.”
On May 31, North Korea carried out its first launch attempt of its space launch vehicle carrying the military satellite, however, it crashed in the West Sea following a second stage rocket failure, according to North Korean state-media KCNA. A second launch attempt was later made on August 23, but also crashed shortly after takeoff. The exact cause of the second failure remains unknown.
Back in December 2022, North Korea launched a “test satellite” into orbit, with the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) describing it as an important final-stage test for the project’s development. By April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced the DPRK had finished constructing its first military reconnaissance satellite following an inspection of the NADA facility with his daughter.
The imaging quality of the new satellite remains unknown. The test satellite from December provided black and white imaging that lacked sophisticated capabilities, however, North Korea has claimed that the test does not show the country’s true imaging capabilities.
This is part of a larger plan to launch several surveillance satellites on different orbits, which Kim said would be critical in “securing real-time information about the hostile forces’ military scenario.” For North Korea, the satellites would be used as a deterrent against the United States and South Korea with the idea that they can be used to identify targets for nuclear strikes.