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North Korea fails to launch reconnaissance satellite

South Koreans watch a television broadcast showing a file image of a North Korean rocket launch at Seoul railway station on 31 May. A rocket carrying what North Korea claims to be a reconnaissance satellite crashed into the Yellow Sea (West Sea) soon after its launch in the early morning of 31 May. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

North Korea's first attempt at launching a claimed military satellite into space has resulted in failure. The rocket carrying the satellite fell into the Yellow Sea (West Sea) soon after launch, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on 31 May.

KCNA reported that the reconnaissance satellite, named ‘Malligyong-1', was launched from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, which is located in Cholsan County, aboard the ‘Chollima-1' rocket at 0627 h local time on 31 May.

“[The Chollima-1 collapsed over the Yellow Sea (West Sea)] after losing thrust due to the abnormal starting of the second-stage engine after the separation of the first stage during the normal flight,” KCNA said.

North Korea's official space agency, the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), which is responsible for the launch of Malligyong-1, attributed its failure to the “low reliability and stability” of the Chollima-1's engine system as well as the “unstable character of the fuel used”, KCNA added.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) also detected the incident.

Soon after Pyongyang's attempted launch of Malligyong-1, the Japanese MoD announced that North Korea had possibly launched “a single ballistic missile” from Tongchang-ri on the country's west coast. “[The missile] disappeared over the Yellow Sea, and it is presumed that no object was thrown into outer space,” the MoD added.

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