North Korea Announces ‘Important’ Milestone In Development Of First Spy Satellite

(Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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North Korean said it achieved a milestone in the development of a military spy satellite with a successful test over the weekend, state media confirmed Monday.

The National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) conducted an “important final-state test” Sunday, launching a missile loaded with reconnaissance camera equipment, state-run KCNA reported. North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un has said the development of a reconnaissance satellite is intended to assist in obtaining real-time information regarding U.S. military activities, according to Reuters.

“The NADA said this is an important success which has gone through the final gateway process of the launch of [a] reconnaissance satellite,” a spokesperson said, according to KCNA.

North Korea intends to complete development of a military satellite capable of collecting long-distance imagery by 2023, KCNA reported. Sunday’s trail stressed the satellite imaging, data transmission and ground control systems of the North Korean satellite prototype. (RELATED: ‘Smash The Enemies’: North Korea Claims Missile Launches Were Practice For A South Korean Invasion)

Pyongyang released two low-resolution black-and-white photos of the South Korean capital of Seoul and Incheon port, which Pyongyang claimed the spy satellite generated during Sunday’s launch, according to Reuters.

The alleged satellite appeared to be an outdated missile equipped with imaging equipment rather than a true satellite, Shin Jong-woo, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense & Security Forum, told Reuters. While the missile likely lacked the power to launch a satellite into orbit, North Korea may have intended the launch to test imaging technology.

“Even if it is crude, North Korea has demonstrated with its other programs a continual advancement in technology so what they do now will likely be improved in coming years,” Stimson Center fellow Martyn Williams told Reuters, adding that the North’s technology at this point likely could not distinguish individuals and vehicles at such a distance.

The U.S. Space Force activated its first foreign command in South Korea Tuesday, tasking the new unit with detecting and tracking incoming missiles and serving as a deterrent to Pyongyang and Beijing against aggression toward the U.S. and its regional allies.

Japan and South Korea reported Pyongyang fired two medium-range ballistic missiles into the waters on the peninsula’s eastern coast Sunday as well, the isolated country’s first missile tests in a month, according to Reuters. The North also unveiled a high-thrust solid-fuel engine to accelerate more powerful launches of ballistic missiles, extending their range, on Thursday.

November’s test saw the North launch missiles capable of reaching the U.S.

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