Rocket design and trajectory on North Korea's rocket launch

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 has a writeup on the launch for those that want a bit more information on the rocket launch itself and less focus on the diplomatic fallout that happened afterward. With all the fuss on the rocket launch one would think that they actually succeeded in getting the satellite to orbit, which they apparently didn't. Looks like so far SpaceX > North Korea.

Unlike on the previous launches of earlier versions of the long-range vehicle, the North Koreans announced the planned impact zones for the first and second stages of the vehicle to warn ships and commercial aircraft out of the area.

North Korea says the satellite launch mission succeeded, but the U.S. says the vehicle failed about half way through an about 13-minute ascent. This plunged the second and third stages, along with the satellite into the mid-Pacific Ocean.
The U.S. was able to monitor key phases of the countdown using land, sea and air-based electronic intelligence assets. In the minutes prior to launch, the North Korean activation of its tracking radars was a tip off that the launch was imminent.

Following liftoff at 0230 GMT (10:30 p.m. EDT Saturday) the vehicle flew on essentially a 90.5-degree azimuth...Radars in Japan and on U.S. and Japanese destroyers in the Sea of Japan and the western Pacific detected the launch immediately as it occurred as did two or three Defense Support Program (DSP) missile early warning spacecraft monitoring the Pacific region...The first stage burned as planned and fell into the Sea of Japan 280 kilometers west of northern Japan.

Japanese navy ships were pre positioned in the area and raced to the splashdown area with the hope of recovering debris for analysis.

The second stage may have ignited, but analysts are still assessing for how long it burned. If it did ignite, the second stage did not complete its firing. As a result the vehicle impacted 1,070 kilometers in the Pacific off the east coast of Japan. This was several hundred miles west and short of the area that North Korea announced where the second stage and payload shroud debris would fall.
Or you could take a look at the Wikipedia page for the satellite. It's a bit of a mess at the moment because sources both indicate that the launch was a success and a failure, and so the article is claiming two things at once right now. But with Russia also confirming that the satellite wasn't placed into orbit I see no reason to take North Korea alone at its word.


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