Jeffrey LewisNew NORK Missile and Space Launch Facility

Lost amid rumors that Kim stroked out has been mounting evidence that North Korea might test another ballistic missile.

That isn’t a surprise — what is a surprise is some excellent sleuthing by Tim Brown and Joe Bermudez to dig out North Korea’s new missile/space launch facility. They have a new article (subscription only) out in Jane’s Defence Weekly on the facility that they are calling the Pongdong-ni Missile and Space Launch Facility:

Located on the west coast of North Korea, several kilometres southwest of the village of Tongch’ang-dong, a base has been under construction for the past eight years and will be capable of launching both the Taepodong 2 ballistic missile and the Taepodong 2 space launch vehicle. The facility also has a rocket engine test stand, which is capable of supporting test firings of all known North Korean rocket motors.

[snip]

The installation is small by Western standards but large by North Korean standards. The launch facility consists of a moveable launch pad and a 10-storey-tall umbilical tower capable of supporting North Korea’s largest ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. About 1 km south of the launch pad there is a rocket engine test stand, which is very similar to the Shahid Hemmat test facility east of Tehran, Iran. The North Korean and Iranian governments have been collaborating on ballistic missile programmes since the early 1980s. A recent example of this was Iran’s use of a Safir (Messenger) space launch vehicle to launch its Omid (Hope) satellite. The Safir is closely based on North Korea’s indigenous Nodong missile.

Pamela Hess with AP and the Beeb both have stories. Here
is the annotated location in GoogleEarth — or you can click the pic.

Comments

  1. Allen Thomson

    Interesting location (39.660 N, 124.706 E). It has a kinda clear launch corridor to the south — maybe they’re thinking of sun-synchronous orbits?

    OTOH, it’s not clear the Norks are very concerned about overflying their neighbors. It would be interesting to calculate where the first and second stages of a due-east launch are likely to fall.

  2. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Allen:

    That was the speculation by Tim, who observed that this was the only part of the facility that is not tucked into the hills.

  3. Geoff Forden (History)

    A quick calculation using GUI_missileFlyout gives that the first stage lands in the Sea of Japan at 39.433290°N 129.472213°E for a Taepodong I launched due East. This can probably be played with but I imagine that it would land roughly there.

  4. Allen Thomson

    > Tim

    Who now has some good satellite pix of the pad and test stand up at his http://talent-keyhole.com/

  5. Allen Thomson

    A question for the readership: in retrospect, did any official or not-quite-official emanations from the US government hint that this new launch facility had been spotted? I can’t think of any, but maybe that’s just my poor old brain.

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