2022, December 18
--North Korea Space Development Agency (NADA) conducted a test for reconnaissance
satellite development at the Seohae Satellite Launching Station.
A spokesperson for the National Space Development
Agency said the main purpose was to “evaluate the capabilities of satellite
imaging and data transmission systems and ground control systems”.
A satellite payload equipped with 1 color camera
with 20m resolution, and a multi-spectral camera, video transmitter, and
other supporting equipment was launched to an altitude of 500 Km.
The National Space Development Agency announced
that it would finish preparing the first military reconnaissance satellite
by April 2023 (with Unha-X ?).
The launcher used for the test is most likely a modified Hwasong-7 (HS-7)
with a diameter of 1.25m from the Nodong series. It has an attached second
stage with a short payload unit for the camera equipment.
The altitude reached of 500km is ideal for a future reconnaissance satellite.
In the current case, the payload will probably not have reached the required
final speed for a stable orbit, despite the second stage (which of course
also has its own weight). This was not planned for the test either and
the "camera" has already disappeared from orbit.
The published photos of the camera show South Korean territoriy from a
vertical perspective, which we can only be explained with an "overflight".
If it had been a ballistic trajectory tangered or passedg South Korea,
it would have huge protests.
Therefore I assume a short-term orbit. This means the second stage terminal
velocity would have been too slow to maintain an orbit. It may not even
have completed a full orbit. Nobody can complain, after all it was a "satellite"
that passed South Korea. The first stage would therefore already have
fallen back over North Korean territory (according to North Korean indications,
slowed down by a parachute). The second stage did the rest and later burned
up like the camera equipment.