Rodong Sinmun reported on Mar. 10, 2022, that Kim had visited the National Aerospace Development Administration (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

While the North Korean regime is apparently preparing to launch a military reconnaissance satellite, it is known that the two satellites launched in 2012 and 2016, respectively, are still orbiting the Earth. However, they are non-functional “space junk” rather than valuable intelligence instruments, Dr. Marcus Schiller of ST Analytics told the Korean edition of Voice of America (VOA).

“They are dead [satellites],” he said. “I remember the launch was successful in 2012, but the satellite started spinning within the first day, and no more signals were received. I think the same was the case with the second launch in 2016.”

Pyongyang has never disclosed any data from the spacecraft for propaganda purposes. Moreover, the South Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) should be able to intercept the satellites transmissions of data or signals to the North’s National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) while they fly over the Korean Peninsula, but has never reported any signs of communication.

The launch of the new satellite, which, according to the KCNA, is now ready to go, is therefore awaited with great anticipation. Some experts doubt its capabilities, considering the satellite shown in photos appears to be very small and too crudely constructed to produce high-resolution images.

The “dead” satellites’ data are within normal parameters

The satellites are still visible on the satellite tracker “N2yo.”

North Korea’s first inoperable satellite, “Kwangmyongsong No. 3 Unit 2” (KMS ​​3-2) took off on Dec. 12, 2012 and is still orbiting the Earth at a speed of about 7.6 kilometers/second and an altitude of about 405 km. On May 18 at 14:36 UTC, it was observed crossing the ocean between Antarctica and Johannesburg.

The “Kwangmyongsong-4” (KMS-4) meanwhile, was spotted flying over Brazil and heading towards Paraguay. Launched from North Korea on Feb. 7, 2016, it is in a circular orbit at an altitude of about 325 km and a speed of about 7.7 kilometers/second.

It takes the satellites an estimated 92 to 93 minutes to circle the earth once, making it about 15 orbits a day. Their flight data is thus within the normal parameters for satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which calls for a round around the Earth in 128 minutes or less, and a frequency of at least 11.25 daily orbits.

Edited by Robert Lauler.