July 06, 2023 13:11
The purported spy satellite launched by North Korea in May had "no meaningful military value at all," the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said Wednesday.
The JCS made the announcement as they wrapped up a 36-day operation to search and salvage wreckage from the rocket that carried the satellite and crashed into the ocean.
It said while a spy satellite normally has a spatial resolution of at least 1 m, North Korea's has a suboptimal resolution of 10 to 20 m, far inferior even to ordinary commercial satellites.
Spatial resolution is a key to how precisely satellite cameras can take images of objects on earth, and a spatial resolution of 1 m means an object of 1 sq.m appears as a single pixel.
The military salvaged the fuselage of the second stage of the rocket on June 15 and parts of the satellite in the third stage more recently. The turbopump, a key engine component, and other components found in the wreckage have made it possible to assess the level of the North's rocket technology.
Analysis was carried out by experts from the Defense Ministry, the JCS, and the Agency for Defense Development, as well as the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. Many satellite components were imported from Russia and other foreign countries.
Launched from Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, the Chollima-1 rocket crashed into waters about 200 km west of Eocheong Island in the West Sea on May 31 due to the malfunction of the second stage after the first stage burned to completion and fell off.
The military will continue analysis of the rocket and satellite in cooperation with the U.S. but it is not going to make detailed results public for the time being to prevent the North from finding out what it knows.
South Korea is strengthening its defenses amid signs that the North is preparing to launch another space rocket or a long-range ballistic missile from Tongchang-ri.
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