North Korea took its long-range rocket off its launch pad to fix technical problems, South Korean media report. It appears though, that the country will still try to forge ahead with the launch, extending the time-frame for the launch until late December.
Satellite imagery shows that the isolated communist regime has moved all three parts of the Unha-3 rocket from the launch pad and moved it to a nearby assembly line, a military source, who was not named, told the South Korean Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.
Yesterday, via state-run media, Pyongyang acknowledged that the rocket has technical problems, saying it is extending the launch until Dec. 29.
There is speculation that the technical problems are caused by the equipment used for controlling the motors of the first stage of the rocket.
Professor Kwon Sei Jin of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, told the Daily NK website: “If you are aiming to control the first stage of the rocket, then regulating the input of propellant is very important.”
According to Kwon those problems can be relatively easy resolved by replacing the parts in question. “So the launch is probably still possible in the timeframe suggested,” he told the Daily NK.
The launch was scheduled to coincide with the first anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il, who died on Dec. 17 last year.
The launch would come eight months after North Korea tried—and failed—to launch an Unha-3 long-range rocket. The rocket broke up merely seconds after takeoff.
North Korea claims that its rocket tests are to send a satellite into orbit and are for “peaceful purposes,” but South Korea, Japan, the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and others have warned Pyongyang not to go through with the test.
Pyongyang has attempted to launch a rocket into orbit five times, each time raising regional tensions.
In anticipation of the new launch, Japan has deployed Patriot missiles, South Korea’s military is on standby, and the U.S. Navy last week sent several warships into position to deal with the rocket launch, reported NBC News.
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