North Korea successfully launches long range rocket

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

North Korea has successfully launched a long range rocket. The launch occurred at 9:51 a.m. local time according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, two days after the country said it might delay the launch until as late as December 29 to repair a "technical deficiency" in the rocket.

"The rocket stages fell on areas in line with its earlier announcement and the launch appears to be successful," said a South Korean military official as quoted by Yonhap. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also confirmed the successful launch in a statement saying, "Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea. Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit." Pieces of the rocket stages reportedly fell into the sea near the coast of the Philippines.

North Korea says the Unha-3 rocket carried a Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 weather satellite which was successfully placed into orbit. "The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday. The satellite entered its preset orbit," said the North Korean government in a statement via the Korean Central News Agency.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a Republican congresswoman representing Florida, condemned the launch saying it's an example that North Korea is "moving ever closer towards its ultimate goal of producing a nuclear ballistic missile".

This is the second long range rocket North Korea fired this year. In April, the country failed at an attempt to launch a multistage rocket into orbit in honor of the anniversary of Kim Il-sung's 100th birthday. The government publicly acknowledged its rocket broke up in flight over ocean waters before ever making it into orbit.