Satellite images show North Korea building rocket launch pad
An April 15th GeoEye satellite image of North Korea's launch facility at Tonghae shows existing facilities (outlined in white) and construction of new rocket assembly and launch sites (outlined in yellow)
May 23rd, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Satellite images show North Korea building rocket launch pad

By Jennifer Rizzo

New satellite images show that North Korea is building a rocket launch pad and assembly center with similarities to a facility in Iran, according to an analysis by the defense publication IHS Jane's.

New construction at Tonghae, a facility on the country's eastern coast that was previously referred to as Musudan-ri, appears in satellite images taken by GeoEye in April.

Jane's calls the construction "major" and says it appears to include work on a launch pad or engine test stand. While construction is in its early stages, some components, including fuel housings, are similar to those at the Semnan Space Center in Iran, according to Jane's.

This is the same site of failed satellite and missile launch attempts in 2006 and 2009. The recent April 13 satellite launch that ended in failure took place at the newer and larger Sohae Satellite Launch Station on North Korea's west coast.

A new building is also being constructed in a small village at the center of the Tonghae site, Jane's says. Analysis of the size and layout of the building by Jane's suggests it will be a horizontal assembly and checkout facility for rockets. This building is also similar to the recently completed rocket assembly and checkout facility at Semnan in Iran.

Calling the new work at Tonghae "surprising," a Jane's analyst speculates that North Korea may be redeveloping the site because it offers a greater margin of error than the country's "flagship" Sohae facility.

"There are 850 km of sea between the launch facility and Hokkaido, meaning that any rockets that re-enter on launch will splash down into the sea. Another possible factor is that an eastward launch takes advantage of the earth's rotation and amplifies the rocket's spaceward trajectory," said Allison Puccioni, an image analyst with IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.

Filed under: North Korea • Satellite imagery
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Arron Barhydt

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    January 28, 2021 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  2. GeorgeBushSr

    they have it all wrong, this is simply an iphone factory, and the second image on the bottom is facebook customer service.
    the facility all the way up top to the left in the main picture is for pre-loading facebook onto iphones.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:08 am | Reply
  3. Northern2-14


    May 24, 2012 at 1:33 am | Reply
  4. Gonna Put My Balls On The Top Of Your Head


    May 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • Northern2-14

      No, but they have a satellite image of shit falling out of Obama's mouth every time he opens it.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:34 am | Reply
      • Chris

        HUMMMMM I wounder why you hate the president?????? Do you live in Mississippi or Alabama?

        May 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
      • Hahahahahahaha

        And they have a picture of Northern2-14 having his way with a sheep. Hahahahahahahah

        May 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  5. Sodomite


    May 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Reply

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