April 20, 2023 10:06
North Korea has built its first-ever military spy satellite and is set to launch it "as planned," state media said Wednesday.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the National Aerospace Development Administration on Tuesday, where he ordered officials to speed up preparations for the launch of "military spy satellite No. 1."
It quoted Kim as stressing the need to launch several satellites to bolster intelligence-gathering capability.
This could give the North a more accurate grasp of the locations of major targets in South Korea such as Patriot anti-missile batteries as well as U.S. strategic weapons deployed in and around the Korean Peninsula.
It remains to be seen how well the satellite performs. Last December, the North released satellite pictures of Seoul and Incheon after testing a "reconnaissance satellite," but the resolution was low and the images crude.
Recent images released by state media show a hexagon-shaped prototype carrying four solar panels.
"The satellite will likely weigh 200 to 300 kg," said Chang Young-keun at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy. "Solar panels will likely be installed on the upper side and optical cameras on the lower side."
To send the satellite into orbit, the North could use a solid-propellant rocket which was used to launch a new intercontinental ballistic missile on April 13.
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