Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Despite yesterday’s pronouncement by the North Korean Director of the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) that the world could expect a satellite launch in the near future, possibly to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) on Oct. 10, there are no overt preparations being made at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, according to a report by the website 38North.org.

Many have expected the North Korean official’s statement to mean that a space launch is imminent. Although the Sohae Station was modernized recently, according to commercial satellite images, there is little or no activity at the site. Sohae is where North Korea carried out previous launches in 2012.

Past launches have shown progress at this point in a launch cycle such as filling propellant buildings near the launch tower and manning nearby instrumentation facilities, and the completion of a “checkout” routine. The new launch control center also should be active at this stage.

Of course, North Korea could be hiding launch preparations. But this seems unlikely with the time remaining before the anniversary in October, which is approximately five weeks away. Perhaps the specter of a North Korean satellite launch is just more fire and brimstone by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

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