16 December 2012

DPRK Finally Gets a Launch Half Right

North Korea's satellite is actually in orbit, though it appears to be tumbling out of control:
After 14 years of trying, North Korea has finally joined the countries capable of launching a satellite into orbit. But the success was short-lived. The nation's space program is also experiencing the bitterness of the failure to keep its spacecraft stable.

North Korea succeeded Dec. 11 on its six attempt to orbit what officials there call an Earth-observation satellite. The U.S. led a group of nations , including Russia and China, that warned North Korea not to proceed with the mission. China has since expressed “regret” over it.

The launch technology can also be used to support the country 's ballistic missile program .

A U.S. defense official suggests the satellite is tumbling in its polar orbit. Strategic Command, which tracks orbiting objects, referred questions to the Pentagon. A spokeswoman there said she would not comment on classified intelligence matters.

One observer who tracked the spacecraft with night-vision goggles said it was “flickering” and produced an intermittent trace on a time-exposure photograph, which could suggest tumbling.
What is significant here is not the ballistic missile capability that this shows, because this rocket science isn't exactly ……… rocket science.

Yes, I know, it technically is rocket science, and from an engineering and technical perspective it is significant, but a ballistic missile aimed at the west coast would need to impart less than ½ the kinetic energy to the payload.

It's been clear that this has been well within the Kim's capabilities for years.

What is significant is now that any attempt to prevent testing related to ballistic missiles will now have to clearly show that it is not almost entirely related to weapons.

While there is support in the international community to prevent the development of explicitly military long range rocket capability, the idea that the United States, it's NATO allies, Russia, China, Israel, etc. should be allowed to hold a hegemony on such a technology will be anathema to most other nations in the world.

This is particularly true because the only nation put at threat by this, though South Korea and Japan are clearly at risk from shorter ranged rockets, is the United States.


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