North Korea on Wednesday revealed details of a satellite it says it is preparing to launch into space next month.
An unnamed official was quoted by the official KCNA news agency as saying that the satellite, which is to be carried into orbit by a rocket, weighs 100 kg and has a lifespan of two years. It is equipped with a camera enabling it to send back pictures and other observational data, the official claimed.
Experts say a proper working satellite would weigh 500 kg and have a lifespan of at least five years. A satellite expert at a state-run research institute here said a satellite weighing 100 kg would be an experimental satellite and really the earliest stage of satellite development, equivalent to the South Korea's first series of satellites Uribyeol 2 and 3 launched in the 1990s.
"With that claim North Korea has practically admitted that the rocket being launched does not aim to put a working satellite into orbit. Such a small satellite could be mounted along with the payload of a rocket being launched by any other country. There is no reason to build an expensive launch vehicle for it."
He said this shows the North "is really only interested in testing the missile rather than putting a satellite into orbit."
A government official here said, "Faced with mounting international condemnation, North Korea is trying hard to back up its absurd claim that it is preparing to launch a rocket for scientific purposes and not testing an intercontinental ballistic missile."