2017 Apr 30
Sunday, Day 120
Navigation Warnings for the Kwangmyongsong 3 Launch
North Korea reported in advance that it was going to launch a satellite around 2012 April 11-13. Areas were notified to the international community of where debris and spent rocket stages might fall.
This map is based on information originally published by North Korea in a letter at national level to other countries and regulators such as the ITU. The geographical areas notified became public through navigation warnings issued by maritime and aeronautical authorites.
The launch vehicle was to be sent southward from an area in the far north of the country. The orbit was said to be aimed at being sun-synchronous at an altitude of 500 kilometres. Given that North Korea had never successfully launched an object into orbit before, there was some doubt that it could achieve that height, and circular, from its first launch. A more easily attainable orbit of 200 x 500 kilometres seemed more likely. Similarly, the stated objective of the mission were very ambitious for a first launch - remote sensing. With no experience of launching, operating and controlling satellites images returned would likely to be opportunistic rather than planned.
The ground track extracted from information supplied fitted the "sun-synchronous" statement over the period of a few days. It would have produce an inclination of about 90°, less that the 97°.4 needed for truly sun-synchronous at 500 km circular - the local time at the ascending/descending nodes would have drifted at the rate of four minutes per day. In the Seesat-L discussion group, Ted Molczan pointed out the consequences of adding that extra 7.4° to the inclination.
Red lines on the map show the extremes of the Sohae launch range that avoid overflight of another country. From side to side, the difference in inclination is very tight, equivalent to less than one degree. The path implied by the safety notices ran exactly down the centre.
Issued from Pyongyang, North Korea.
A0028/12 - DETAILED INFORMATIONS ON THE LAUNCH OF SATELLITE 'KWANGMYONGSONG-3'ARE AS FOLLOW: 1. LAUNCH SCHEDULE, RESERVED DATE: 11-16 APRIL 2012 TIME : 2200NEXT 0300(UTC) DAILY 2. PLACE OF LAUNCH, WEST SEA SATELLITE LAUNCH SITE IN CHOLSAN COUNTY, NORTH PYONGAN PROVINCE 3. FALLING AREA COORDINATES, FIRST STAGE FALLING AREA 351225N 1245223E 351213N 1243034E 355510N 1245025E 355520N 1243210E SECOND STAGE FALLING AREA 150819N 1244615E 150935N 1234527E 192308N 1244513E 192432N 1235426E. GND - GPA0CTAG.GPA, 11 APR 22:00 2012 UNTIL 16 APR 03:00 2012. CREATED: 06 APR 05:30 2012
Footnote - Outside Observers
Western news media and governments were invited to view the launch preparations and the satellite in advance of launch. Only the press took up the invite.
Deliberately, or by design, the visitors were not pre-warned of the actual time of the launch so the first they heard of it was when colleagues back home started to telephone them for detail of the failure - of which they had no knowledge.
It was, at the very least, embarrassing for those involved who then had to wait several days to get out of the Country. The invitation was not repeated for the second launch attempt later in the year.
Page Date: 2011 Apr 6
Updated: 2015 Dec 20
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