Unha-3 launches North Korea's first satellite
By Doug Richardson
North Korea's Unha-3 satellite launch vehicle (SLV) successfully launched a second version of the Kwangmyongsong-3 spacecraft on 12 December 2012. The first Kwangmyongsong-3 had failed to achieve orbit on 12 April 2012 as the result of a failure of its launch vehicle about 90 seconds into the flight.
According to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) officials, US missile-warning systems detected and tracked the launch at 19:49 EST on 11 December. The Unha-3 SLV (described by NORAD as a "missile") was tracked on a southerly azimuth. Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea, while the second stage fell into the Philippine Sea. "Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit," a NORAD statement confirmed.
This was North Korea's first successful satellite launch. North Korea claims that earlier launches conducted using a Paektusan-1 launch vehicle on 31 August 1998 and an Unha-2 launch vehicle on 5 April 2009 were successful, but in both instances the spacecraft and its third stage are reported to have crashed into the Pacific Ocean. No orbiting spacecraft was detected by US, Russian or international observers.190 of 1339 words
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