Feeds

Pics show North Korean rocket ready to go

Norks ready for biggest shot yet

Business security measures using SSL

A satellite picture has been released showing what appears to be a large three-stage rocket stack erected by a gantry in North Korea, confirming news reports indicating an imminent launch.

North Korea's latest revenue-generating scheme?

Rattling a sabre has become very expensive. Credit: DigitalGlobe

The image, released by commercial satellite Earth-imaging firm DigitalGlobe, shows the North Korean launch gantry at Musudan-ri, where the country's larger missiles and rockets are test fired. In commercial satellite images produced in recent months, the gantry has stood empty: but in the DigitalGlobe image - taken yesterday - a large multistage rocket is clearly visible.

According to the widely-respected analysts at Globalsecurity.org, the picture:

...clearly confirms recent NBC News reporting from [US defence] officials that North Korea was in the process of loading the first two lower stages of the rocket.

The service-level swing arms appear to be rotated away from the launch vehicle. The loading of liquid fuel from nearby fuel storage buildings and final check-out procedures could take place in the next few days.

The US government, with access to more detailed pictures from dedicated spy satellites and/or other sources, will have a clearer idea of exactly what rocket is on the pad and of North Korea's progress towards a launch. The US has previously warned Pyongyang against such plans, saying that this is a missile test and as such a destabilising piece of sabre-rattling.

For its part, the North Korean regime argues that in fact it plans only to launch a peaceful satellite into orbit as any nation might.

Both the US and Japan have deployed warships equipped with SM-3 ballistic missile interceptors to the area. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said there are no plans to interfere with a North Korean launch; this suggests that the warships will only shoot if the rocket's trajectory appears to offer a threat to Japan. North Korea has previously test-fired a shorter ranged missile across Japan into the Pacific.

The technologies required to place a satellite into orbit and those necessary to carry a nuclear warhead across intercontinental ranges are very similar. North Korea's "Taepodong-2" rocket design is thought to be potentially capable of either mission if suitably configured. However, it has previously been test-fired only once, on which occasion it blew up shortly after liftoff.

Furthermore, while North Korea is widely believed to have the materials and knowhow necessary to build a functioning atomic bomb - and in some quarters to have carried out a successful test - not many analysts believe it can yet build one which could be carried by an ICBM.

With reference to the now-imminent rocket test, according to Globalsecurity.org: "Based on [this] imagery alone, it cannot be determined whether this is a Taepo-dong ICBM or a space launch vehicle carrying the Kwangmyeongseong-2 (Lodestar) satellite payload." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.