NEW SATELLITE IMAGE: More activity at North Korea launch facility
April 4th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

NEW SATELLITE IMAGE: More activity at North Korea launch facility

By Adam Levine

A new image of the North Korean  launch pad at Tongchang-dong Space Launch Center (see photo above the story) shows what IHS Jane's Defense Weekly analyst Allison Puccioni says is "specific activity" on the pad, as well as at the rocket checkout assembly facility. The March 31 image was provided to CNN by GeoEye.

Read more about North Korea's missile technology

Puccioni compared the new image to a GeoEye image from March 20th and  March 28th. She notes the gantry on the umbilical tower has changed directions and more vehicles and objects are seen parked around the launch tower. What are likely fuel containers have been uncovered and stacked behind the fuel system, according to Puccioni.

GeoEye image of the launch pad (March 28, 2012)

In addition, "the work platforms, which swivel in tiers around the launch block" have been rotated backwards in the new March 31 image. The platforms are connected, which Puccioni surmises are either to check out the platforms themselves or to allow workers to look at the launch tower itself or the fuel system.

Nearby is the rocket assembly building - also referred to as the horizontal assembly building - where three trucks can be observed.

GeoEye image of the rocket assembly facility (March 31, 2012)

"That's where the action is happening" right now, Puccioni told Security Clearance. The vehicles do not appear to be large enough to be the transporters for bringing the rocket stages to the launch pad.

Nearby two mobile vehicles can be seen on a newly made road. Analysts believe those are part of a telemetry tracking system.

Two vehicles on new road could be mobile tracking equipment, according to an IHS Jane's Defense Weekly analysis (GeoEye and IHS Jane's Weekly Defense/March 31, 2012)

Additionally, there is evidence of a new surface around the missile assembly building and another buiding nearby, according to Puccini. The resurfacing could be either a beautification in advance of VIP visiting the facility or could be preparation for specialized heavy vehicles, Puccini said.

Evidence of newly paved surfaces near missile assembly and nearby building. (Left: March 28, 2012 (GeoEye and IHS Jane's Weekly Defense)/Right: March 31, 2012 (GeoEye and IHS Jane's Weekly Defense)

That paving is not surprising around the assembly building since it likely necessary to accomodate the transport vehicles that will carry the stages of the rocket to the launch pad, said Puccini. However, the fact the second building which was believe to be an administrative building could signify "that it is more important to the launch operations than previously thought," noted Puccini.

It could be a VIP support facility or it could be connected to the rocket operations, Puccini told Security Clearance."It may house something that will be added to the rocket like theoretically the payload (which in this case will be the satellite)," she explained.


Filed under: Asia • FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • North Korea • Satellite imagery
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. ccsroscoe@gmail.com

    Is North Korea not using the telemetry data and chips that Clinton gave to China?

    Is China not sharing or is North Korea just not smart enough to use it...yet?

    Clinton
    Gave China Chips for Nuclear War

    Charles R. SmithWednesday, Oct. 1, 2003

    Newly declassified documents show that President Bill Clinton
    personally approved the transfer to China of advanced space technology that can
    be used for nuclear combat.

    The documents show that in 1996 Clinton approved the
    export of radiation hardened chip sets to China. The specialized chips are
    necessary for fighting a nuclear war.

    "Waivers may be granted upon a national interest
    determination," states a Commerce Department document titled "U.S. Sanctions on
    China."

    "The President has approved a series of satellite related
    waivers in recent months, most recently in November, 1996 for export of
    radiation hardened chip sets for a Chinese meteorological satellite," noted the
    Commerce Department documents.

    These special computer chips are designed to function
    while being bombarded by intense radiation. Radiation hardened chips are
    considered critical for atomic warfare and are required by advanced nuclear
    tipped missiles.

    Judicial Watch obtained the documents through the Freedom
    of Information Act, a Washington-based political watchdog group.

    Several documents were withheld from release by the U.S.
    Commerce Department for commercial and personal privacy exemptions, but none of
    the documents were withheld for national security reasons. Judicial Watch is
    expected to appeal the withholdings.

    Decade of Betrayal

    U.S. intelligence sources stated that the newly released
    documents illustrate the extent to which the Clinton White House placed trade –
    and trade with China specifically – above national security.

    Google this thread to read the rest: clinton, loral, china, betrayal

    Article is in Newmax Archive.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Reply
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    April 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
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      April 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Reply
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  4. CharlieSeattle

    The only man that knew how to treat North Korea's and China's BS was General MacArthur.

    But who fired General MacArthur and why? Was MacArthur's dismissal a rare occurance? Sadly, No!

    Do weak Political Leaders trump the sound Military strategy of winning often? Sadly, Yes!

    President Truman relieved MacArthur of command. The General had been making public statements at odds with Truman's war strategy in Korea, insisting that a full push of troops into North Korea was necessary to stop hostilities. Although MacArthur's opinion was the militarily correct one, Truman could not have the appearance of allowing the military to dictate policy to the President. It is also likely that Truman the Democrat feared MacArthur's incredible popularity, and his potential for doing what Eisenhower did – returning from a major military win to become a victorious Republican Presidential candidate.

    President Barack Obama sacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a seismic shift for the U.S. military order in wartime, and chose the familiar, admired — and tightly disciplined — Gen. David Petraeus to replace him. Petraeus, architect of the Iraq war turnaround, was once again to take hands-on leadership of a troubled war effort. Obama said bluntly that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's scornful remarks about administration officials represent conduct that "undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system."
    He ousted the commander after a face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office and named Petraeus, the Central Command chief, who was McChrystal's direct boss, to step in.
    Obama said bluntly that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's scornful remarks about administration officials represent conduct that "undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system."
    He ousted the commander after a face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office and named Petraeus, the Central Command chief, who was McChrystal's direct boss, to step in.

    General Wesley Clark was relieved of command in Bosnia for much the same reason. The simple truth right now is that nobody says that Clark was wrong. In fact, the respected German Gen. Klaus Naumann, just-retired head of the NATO military committee, told a group of us here recently, in his review of the still-unresolved conflict, that "the reluctance to use overwhelming force allowed Slobodan Milosevic to calculate his risks. ... I would press harder for visible preparations and visible planning."

    But it was the "go-slow" guys, the "they'll give in with a just little more
    punishment" chaps (in fact, the very same mentality that gave us
    Vietnam!), the ones who would rewrite all of the dictums of von Clausewitz
    and Sun Tzu about the need to strike hard, fast and unrelentingly, who were
    unquestionably and provably wrong - and whose political caution cost tens
    of thousands of lives and came close to losing the war for NATO.

    Truman's hissy fit over General MacArthur, Clinton's hissy fit over General Wesley Clark and Obama's hissy fit over General McCrystal are the root causes of today's FUBAR with Afganistan, China and North Korea.

    Hm, all Democrats.

    Sadly, the three aforementioned clowns learned nothing from another Democrat, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    An ill and crippled old man that died during his fourth term of office. He was the last Democrat that fought wars to win!

    April 5, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Reply
    • jillybeansalad

      Why wasn't Afghanistan and Iraq "completed" before Obama came into office? How many years is it supposed to take? GW screwed that pooch all by himself.

      April 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  5. Jeff

    I wish the Navy shoots it down and has clear video of the event and it goes global on youtube. It's my wish and I am sticking to it.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  6. wavejump1100

    im no expert but it doesnt look like all that much activity to me. last weekend there were more cars parked in front of my house than there are at their entire launch facility.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  7. Alex Povolotski

    But of course there is more activity! They promised the launch and they gonna deliver it. Can you get some real news next time?

    April 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • GeuraeYeoja

      I think they updated the story because most people in the world think the North is just bluffing. They ALWAYS say, "Oooh, we're going to set off a rocket!" then they never do. This time, satellites are seeing activity around the launchpad- something we didn't see before. So, to some of us, it IS news. :P

      April 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  8. BEn maglalang

    Iit's a ROCKET AS IN ROCKET for a satellite launch a guided ballastic misiile will have a more advance design in boosters what the hell is wrong to all of you or are ur an army of boots and troll coomenting negatively here

    April 5, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • cja

      You are right in that this rocket would make a very in-effective ICBM. It required to much prep time to set up and launch. But they are testing ICBM parts and subsystems and technology. NK has zero need for a satellite

      April 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  9. Michael

    When will our Mars lander be touching down? Thougi ht was coming up soon, and would be a lot more imteresting than this launch. It gives me the creeps, like a bunch of Vultures waiting for the carmage so they can feed.

    April 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  10. Northern2-14

    Boring.

    April 4, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Reply
    • Big Marcus

      I am sure if you look, you'll find an article on Justin Bieber's latest haircut. You'll find it more interesting.

      April 5, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
      • Zing!

        .

        April 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  11. 28mAmerican

    North korea doesnt deserve a space program. They treat their people like garbage.
    (inflamitory comment intentional just to exercise my right to do so and enjoy freedoms those in AZ no longer have)

    April 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
    • Feltch

      So does Amerika.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:07 am | Reply
    • Nodack

      I live in AZ. What freedoms did I lose? I keep hearing about all my rights being taken away. At least tell me what I lost? OMG all my freedoms are gone!

      April 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Reply
      • cja

        New law going through the system. You go to jail if you annoy someone with on-line comments. No kidding. But I bet the courts will toss that one out "way fast".

        April 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  12. Jim

    It SHOULD be shot down...If you cannot feed your people and you operate on a ridiculous fear and intimidation methodology you should be destroyed period! All the Kim family should be taken out back and shot to give the country and its people a chance!

    April 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Reply
    • Joe M.

      The government of the Philippines is the latest to join the club of those saying they would shoot down the missile or its debris if it should come anywhere near their territory.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:35 am | Reply
      • .noel

        oh nice word ,but how it can shootdown ?philippines is the weakest military in the world no anti aircraft battries,no missiles defense,i think the military call darna to catch it

        April 5, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  13. i am sam

    They have the right to a space program.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Reply
    • don lardo

      Yes they do, the issue I have is they spend a lot of money on the program when the funds could be used to help the general population get the food they need.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply
      • @don lardo

        "New data shows Washington has given more than 115 billion dollars in financial aid to Israel over the years, indicating Tel Aviv’s great dependence on the US.
        According to the report published by the Congressional Research Service Israel has received more assistance from the US than 15 European countries did to recover from the devastation caused during World War II. "

        USA also shoud use these funds to help the general population.

        April 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Read More

      Yes, you are right but wrong.. You should read the UN resolution from OCT 11..

      April 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Reply
    • uareright

      they have a good start, their all spaced out already

      April 4, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Reply
    • Joe M.

      Only if Kim Jong Un and the military ruling council is being shot into space.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:39 am | Reply
      • Joe M.

        If the North Korean military elite and the Dear Leader could be convinced that they should seize control of the moon, then the space effort might be worth it :o)

        April 5, 2012 at 12:42 am |
      • Joe M.

        Quickly!!! Everybody send an email to Pyongyang stating that in no way will Kim Jong Un and the Noth Korean army be allowed clearance to land on the moon. This will make that goal totally irresistable for them.

        April 5, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • agstrange

      No, they really don't. Did you notice that this past winter was largely a non-winter for much of the US? That's because Kim Jong Sick is burning in hell.

      April 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
  14. shadows do not lie

    The WORDS HEARD FROM north korea >>>> ABORT ABORT MISSION,,,, ITS HEADING INTO CHINA !

    if this thing gives any hint of a malfunction it will be destroyed , and the north will be the first to hit the self destruct button if they have half a brain.

    THERE WILL BE MANY NATIONS AT THE READY I BET INCLUDING CHINA.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
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    north korea, taking it to another great level, we are watching!!

    April 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply

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