People watch the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 31 May 2023. EFE/EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

North Korea says spy satellite crashed into sea

Seoul/Tokyo, May 31 (EFE).- A rocket carrying a military spy satellite launched by North Korea on Wednesday crashed into the Yellow Sea due to a technical failure, Pyongyang reported, vowing a second attempt “as soon as possible.”

A man watches the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 31 May 2023. EFE/EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

The satellite was launched on a Chollima-1 rocket, a new type of projectile, at 6.27 am local time (21:27 GMT Tuesday) from the Sohae space launch station, the state Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

People watch the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 31 May 2023. EFE/EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

It said that the carrier rocket fell into the Yellow Sea “after losing thrust due to the abnormal starting of the second-stage engine after the separation of the first stage during the normal flight.”

The failure was attributable to “the low reliability and stability of the new-type engine system and unstable character of the fuel used,” a spokesperson for the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration quoted by KCNA said, adding it would thoroughly investigate the “serious” defects found and vowing to “conduct the second launch as soon as possible.”

Shortly before Pyongyang’s announcement, the South Korean military reported that the rocket had crashed into the Yellow Sea.

The projectile flew over the sea west of Baengnyeong island and landed about 200 kilometers west of Eocheong island (50 kilometers west of the South Korean coast) due to an abnormal flight, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a brief statement.

South Korean military sources and the Japanese government told earlier local media that the rocket had disappeared from radar before reaching areas where the North Korean regime had warned of the possible fall of debris.

The North Korean launch caused the activation of anti-missile alerts at around 6.30 am local time in Seoul and in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa.

The Japanese authorities withdrew the alert within 20 minutes after considering that there was no risk of an impact on national territory, while the Seoul metropolitan government also lifted its warning.

Pyongyang had confirmed Tuesday that it would launch a space rocket loaded with a military reconnaissance satellite in the coming days, in line with its weapons modernization goals.

Seoul and Tokyo, which have called emergency meetings, suspect that the launch – as with previous launches of North Korean satellites – is a covert test of ballistic missile technology, which would punishable by UN sanctions that weigh on Pyongyang. EFE