Monday, April 6, 2009

North Korean Rocket: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2

North Koreans use rubbish special effects to persuade us of a successful launch

So, the North Koreans claim to have launched their Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 satellite, much to the annoyance of the rest of the world who think that they are just trying to build an ICBM and not put a satellite up. Or, if the James Bond film Die Another Day is to be believed, then they were attempting to launch a space-borne laser death ray.

The most rubbish-looking papier mache satellite ever

The North Koreans claim a succesful launch whilst the South Koreans and the Americans say the whole thing crashed into the sea shortly after launch. Well, we know who we believe... It all sounds rather similar to the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-1 satellite in 1998 when the North Koreans claimed that their satellite was happily beaming back the "Song of General Kim Il Sung" to Earth but no-one else could detect it and it was believed to have crashed before it reached orbit. The first test of the carrier rocket the Unha 2 (believed to be either similar to the Taepodong 2 ICBM or identical) in July 2006 was also unsuccessful with the rocket failing 40 seconds into the flight. The first stage of the rocket is based on the old 1960s Soviet R27 submarine launched ballistic missile. Overall it's a pretty sizeable rocket at 2m in diameter and over 35m tall.

Personally we just think that if you look at the live footage from North Korean TV it just all looks like a terrible 1950s Sc iFi movie special effect. No way this was real!