DPRK Rocket Launch Vindication
The world and top western satellite imaging experts were caught by surprise when North Korea (DPRK) unexpectedly launched an earth orbiting satellite on the morning of 12/12/2012.
New pictures taken on launch day unravel the mystery of how western experts got fooled. The pictures also show that North Korea had pulled out all the stops (by their standards) and was fully prepared, with media and dignitaries present, to launch the morning of the 12th.
The telling images were captured immediately before, during and within an hour after the launch. This time, outside coverage is even better than last April’s much-publicized launch failure that was attended by the western press!
The North Korean watchdog, 38North, has been working double overtime trying to make up for their slip-up over predicting the day of the launch. It is paying dividends.
Their latest information is in this article:
“The Unha-3 Launch Day Part Deux: From the Ground and from the Sky“
– Nick Hansen, 38North, 12/19/2012
38North operates out of the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS at Johns Hopkins University.
DPRK Rocket Launch Day – 12/12/12
At the launch site, just a couple days before, there was fresh fallen snow and DPRK had officially announced they had “technical difficulties” with the rocket. That might have been a ruse to fool outsiders. But DPRK was ready.
Even KCNA was there to provide full local launch coverage. KCNA is the Korean Central News Agency – North Korea’s official government controlled news source.
KCNA released the above image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at the launch control facility near Pyongyang the morning of the launch. Details are sketchy but it is believed it was taken about 9am, just 49 minutes before the launch… and just after Kim had authorized it to take place around 8am.
In the background behind Kim, you can see the rocket and gantry completely enclosed within a giant tarp before launch.
Western experts could not see launch preparations!! That is how they got fooled.
Just Before Launch
This single pre-launch image from KCNA shows launch preparations the morning of the 12th. Shadow angles and length indicate the picture was taken about an hour before launch. By then the rocket was finally exposed and the gantry opened.
There appears to be plenty of pre-launch activity on the pad. Based on the image, Nick Hansen says there are “three or four vehicles and 8 to 10 people on the pad”.
DigitalGlobe Satellite Images
As fate would have it, DigitalGlobe had a satellite well positioned to capture images of the launch site within an hour of blastoff.
Click on the image at left for a larger view.
Last April DigitalGlobe’s first images were capture 5 hours after that ill-fated launch.
Most notable on this image is melted snow off the back of the flame trench. It was created by the rocket blast.
Visible, too, are people walking around on the pad, but the trailer left on the pad during the launch had already been removed.
This image shows vehicles leaving the instrumentation site just after launch. According to Hansen, the mobile instrumentation was left behind at the site for later repacking and removal. That was done in previous launches.
These combined satellite images show a small train station. It is about a mile from the launch pad. On the left the station is shown just after last April 12th’s publicized launch. On the right it is shown on the day of December’s snowy launch.
Dignitaries and other officials are brought to the rocket launch site through this station. The activity level this time is the same as it was last April, indicating the launch was fully preplanned for December 12th.
New picture evidence shows DPRK hiding its rocket practically up until the moment of launch. That, and the “technical difficulties” ploy, is how western experts were fooled.
Knowing that provides some level of vindication to seasoned DPRK experts like Nick Hansen over getting hoodwinked. It also proves how deviously successful that DPRK can be at concealing its activities.
Hansen pointed out that workers and other officials present at the launch were dressed in more military garb than in the past. He says it suggests the military is taking a more open and active roll in controlling the North’s rocket program.
Just a couple months ago, new activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear weapons test site prompted speculation that DPRK was prepared for another explosion. None came.
Its happened twice before… rocket launches and nuke tests. It’ll likely happen again.
DPRK is ready.