ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on March 20th, 2012 at 8:41 am

North Korean Soehae Satellite Launching Station Very Similar To Iranian Facility

» by in: North Korea

As I have mentioned before since the North Koreans and Iranians have been reportedly sharing missile technology, the fact that the Iranians successfully put their third satellite into orbit last month likely means that the North Koreans should have a very high probability of putting a satellite into orbit as well:

In June 2011, Iran launched the Rasad satellite into orbit atop a Safir-B carrier rocket (photographed here), heightening concerns that Iran is hiding military ambitions behind a scientific program.

North Korea’s new rocket launch site looks similar to Iran’s cruise and ballistic missile facility, a nongovernmental defense source provider said.

A report issued by the U.S. online defense site in 2011 said, “The static rocket motor test stand at the Tongchang-dong site is similar to one observed at the Shahid Hemmat facility east of Tehran, Iran. Given North Korean and Iranian collaboration in developing long-range ballistic missiles, the two facilities are probably based on similar design concepts.”

North Korea and Iran have developed bilateral cooperation regarding missile technology. Iran’s intermediate-range ballistic missile Shahab-3 is based on the technology of North Korea’s Rodong-1.

Iran also reportedly sent an observation delegation to the North when the regime conducted its second-round nuclear test after launching the long-range Taepodong-2 missile.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link about the Sohae Satellite Launching Station which I profiled in this earlier ROK Drop posting.  The article points out some other good facts about this new facility such as how it is located closer to the North Korean missile manufacturing facility near Pyongyang which reduces transit times to the launch facility from five days to the east coast launch site to only one day to the new complex.  The new facility is also more automated than the prior east coast launch complex and has features such as underground fuel lines for the missile.  Why is this significant?  Because as the article points out, fuels trucks driving up to the launch pad is a sign of an impending launch for US spy satellites.  Now they can fuel the missile without a fuel truck giving away their intentions to launch.

Finally here is a graphic of the expected launch trajectory:

With the trajectory going over China this will complicate any US attempt to intercept the missile with an AEGIS SM-3 interceptor if so attempted, though I doubt the US would do so even if it wasn’t flying over China.  Next month should be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

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  • Teadrinker
    4:53 pm on March 20th, 2012 1

    Flying over China, eh? Well I guess that answers your question, “Are Russia & China Really Concerned About the North Korean Satellite Launch?”.

  • Leon LaPorte
    5:43 pm on March 20th, 2012 2

    Not a rocket scientist here but aren’t launches meant to orbit satellites almost always in a more eastern direction (prograde orbit), since the rotation of the earth assists thereby lowering fuel consumption?

  • Leon LaPorte
    5:44 pm on March 20th, 2012 3

    Or is this meant for polar orbit? Of course we all know it is simply a guise for missile testing (and of course a bargaining chip).

  • MTB Rider
    8:06 pm on March 20th, 2012 4

    This is “meant” to be a polar orbit. You know, so that the Kim Il Sung satellite can broadcast Juche Philosophy to the Oppressed Masses below… Or whatever nonsense they think will sell. Yes, it’s a test of ballistic missile technology. Nothing more, nothing less.

    What WILL be interesting is if the rocket fails after the first stage, while flying over China. If it were to fall out of the sky, and slam into a factory of Chinese workers, or onto a beach resort, or a Chinese school. I wonder how the Chinese would react to that?

    Eastern launches don’t really work the way you described (someone else had a better answer on one of the threads, something about throwing beer bottles at old people’s mailboxes. Funny, and informative), but mostly they are to make sure if anything goes wrong, the debris ends up in the ocean and not at some Early Bird diner in Florida.

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:06 pm on March 20th, 2012 5

    Yeah. I might be thinking backasswards. :lol:

    But you are right. Let that thing fall on Beijing or somewhere sensitive and the norKs might find themselves in hot water with their “communist” brothers.

    *I’m somewhat certain 99% of launches go east because of some momentum factor…

  • Ron Paul
    10:54 pm on March 20th, 2012 6

    This is what you get for appeasement. Like I said before get everyone out of there and bomb the heck out of North Korea ’till they say no mas. The hell with collateral damages on that strip of real estate. If Chinese wants in, then so be it. We’ll bomb’em too.

  • ChickenHead
    3:22 am on March 21st, 2012 7

    In my absence, the conversation seems to have moved here. I’ll re-post this…


    “Nobody launches rockets westward… ever.”

    You are right and I am wrong.

    Due to politics and geography, Israel is the exception to the practice of launching eastward.

    Of course, I am kicking myself for not spending 30 seconds to verify my incorrect claim that “nobody” “ever” launches westward… especially as I was so snitty about it.

    Well… lesson learned.

    You can only be a diick when you are ABSOLUTELY correct… or you are just a diick.

    Anyway, you might want to double check your claim that the benefit of eastward launches is just a “myth”.

    While your beer bottle and mailbox analogy was amusing, it does not apply… as there is a difference between linear and rotational systems.

    With no advanced math or physics background, you might not be able to recognize it immediately, but you might consider that in rotational systems, the effects of acceleration can be achieved through velocity.

    After some consideration, the most simplistic way I can think to explain it is like this…

    A piece of mud on a moving bicycle tire becomes unattached. What does it do? It leaves the rotational system tangent to the tire at the point of detachment. Like the rocket, it is no longer a part of the rotational system.

    I had to do these calculations once for a class. I (vaguely) recall there is a savings of around 5.5% to launch eastward at the equator with the savings decreasing by the cosine of the latitude… though that memory could be off. It might have been .55%. But at millions of dollars per launch, every bit of fuel savings or payload increase is a factor.

    I realize I’m dealing with a “if it ain’t on Wikipedia in a simple way it can’t be true” crowd…

    …but eastward launches are not a myth.

  • Teadrinker
    5:24 am on March 21st, 2012 8

    “Anyway, you might want to double check your claim that the benefit of eastward launches is just a “myth”.”

    Ignoring the points I was making? The reasons most people think there is a benefit (that Earth itself if launching the rocket as one would throw a ball) is a myth. And the fact Israel launches its rockets westward proves the point I was making about the main consideration taken when choosing a direction to launch.

    “With no advanced math or physics background, you might not be able to recognize it immediately, but you might consider that in rotational systems, the effects of acceleration can be achieved through velocity.”

    Actually, I’ve studied advanced math and physics (I wasn’t always a linguist, you know)…and anyone who’s watched Star Trek knows about that.

    So, who’s the biggest nerd now?

  • Spelunker
    6:50 am on March 21st, 2012 9

    According to the trajectory map, the largest cities directly beneath the flight path are Hangzhou, China and Tainan, Taiwan. The Yangtze River delta area of China is densely populated, so even if one screw gets loose on that North Korean rocket then it’s likely that some unfortunate Chinese citizen will be screwed.

  • Teadrinker
    7:06 am on March 21st, 2012 10


    Yes, and a failure could also happen during the first stage, which is why there is concern that debris and fuel could hit South Korea (I guess it could happen if it veers off its trajectory).

  • John in NY
    7:20 am on March 21st, 2012 11

    According to this, this flies over Chinese and Taiwanese territory. If China is only mildly protesting, then they are not only complicit but I’d say they are accessories. Otherwise they can’t see this as anything but an invasion of their airspace. What has Taiwan said? This would certainly be considered an invasion on their end no? Am I missing something here?

  • Lew Franklin
    9:28 am on March 21st, 2012 12

    This article contains a few correct statements like cooperation with Iran, but is mainly erronious on the similarity of launch pads and rocket engine test stands. But the worst error is mentioning that the red curved line is the rocket”s flight path passing over China and Taiwan! On this map projection, the rocket launch flight path flies directly over the booster impact areas, the red dots on the map, and would appear curved slightly to the right. The red lines with arrows pointing to these dots are merely pointing to these impact areas, but the author misinterprets them. Were he on his toes, he would have mentioned the risk of some launch failure resulting in rocket debris falling on islands off South Korea or into the Philippine Islands. The author needs a technical proofreader.

  • ChickenHead
    9:57 am on March 21st, 2012 13

    I agree… this graphic makes no sense.

    The flightpath should be almost a straight line on this projection…

    …maybe with .25 degree of curvature to the left per minute of flight time due to the rotation of the earth.

    I vote that the flightpath is a left-curving arc through all three points… which only goes over the ocean.

  • Teadrinker
    10:04 am on March 21st, 2012 14

    I reread your previous comment…Israel is the exception? What about the AFB in California where the did some missile test on the minutmen I think? Isn’t it where NASA also launches satellites that go in polar orbit? Vandenberg I think it’s called.

  • KFC
    10:27 am on March 21st, 2012 15

    So, I guess the whole notion of South Korean communists’ claim that Americans are present on the Korean Peninsula not for the SKs but for their own national security is true?

    After all, if the Satellte rocket (ICBM) is successfully launched by the NKs then I would feel very threatened in the mainland U.S.

    Shouldn’t the U.S. pressure the SKs to accept U.S.M.C. relocations? And, place U.S. nuclear arsenal right up NKs arse?

    You know, come to think of it, Bush should have attacked NK instead of Iraq… but of course everyone knows why he’d attacked Iraq: Jewish lobby and oil. NK is really not much of strategic interest to the U.S. But, by acquiring an ICBM capability, NKs have become a real threat to the U.S.

  • ChickenHead
    4:29 pm on March 21st, 2012 16


    Don’t be intentionally stupid.

    Polar orbits aren’t launched eastward… and they aren’t launched westward. They are launched…

    …wait for it…

    …toward the pole.

    Here is a link to put it to rest. It claims a 5.1% bonus at the equator with 4.5% at Cape Canaveral based on the cosine of the latitude.

    Certainly, you can trust Crazy Sam’s Model Rocketry and Warhammer 40000 Action Collectables homepage.

    Oh… wait. Did I say Crazy Sam?

    I meant NASA.

    Now let it go.

  • Glans
    4:47 pm on March 21st, 2012 17

    Everybody on Earth is going east. This eastward motion is fastest on the equator, but even North Koreans are moving eastward. So if you just want to get in orbit, you launch to the east, and the rocket speed adds to the initial eastward speed. Like Israel, you may have good reasons to launch westward; in that case, the initial eastward motion is opposing your rocket, so it’s going to need to go a little faster relative to the ground.

    If you’re going for a polar orbit, you need to aim just that little bit west of south.

    The earth really turns, guys, and it has some effects.


    CNN says China held “frank” talks with North Korea.

    NTDV says China is trying to dissuade North Korea, and quotes CCTV with the work “frank”. says China called on all parties for restraint. The word “frank” wasn’t used.

    So, people who don’t speak for the Chinese government suggest it’s annoyed by the prospective launch, but it doesn’t say so on its own behalf.

  • Teadrinker
    5:02 pm on March 21st, 2012 18


    “Don’t be intentionally stupid.”

    Now, now. You’re overcompensating for the fact that I was right and you were so very wrong.

    It was 1 am and I was on my cell phone and it was only a few moments ago that I had the chance to reread your comment, then one in which you made your now infamous statement.

    To my surprise, I noticed I had missed the part you had directed to Glans (such was the magnitude of your error).

    “They are launching it southward to place it in a polar orbit. The launch site was changed to the west coast so a southward launch wouldn’t take it over South Korea and Japan.”

    So, you’re not totally nuts after all. Sorry for assuming that you were.


  • ChickenHead
    5:28 pm on March 21st, 2012 19

    I’m no longer sure what we are arguing about.

  • Teadrinker
    7:22 pm on March 21st, 2012 20

    Yeah….after all….we all know that I was right and you were wrong. ;-)

  • Leon LaPorte
    7:30 pm on March 21st, 2012 21

    Israel launched into a retrograde orbit (at greater cost and risk) for geopolitical concerns.

    Actually, the US would have benefited greatly if our space program had of been based out of somewhere like Boulder Colorado. That’s why Mork landed there (can I get some love?). However, comma, they put the damn main launch facility at almost sea level for political purposes. That’s a lot more hydrazine Herr Doktor! Sieg Heil mein komfy chair (have a paperclip handy?). But that’s for another post. In the meantime, our secretary of state is looking for Amelia Earhart in order to discover her secret, and tasty, chocolate chip recipe. Still no budget from the republocrats..

  • Leon LaPorte
    8:09 pm on March 21st, 2012 22

    She could bottle her piss and sell it from Japanese vending machines!

    /imagine all the possibilities
    //she ain’t too bright

  • ChickenHead
    8:51 pm on March 21st, 2012 23


    One country launches to the west. I was wrong to say otherwise.


    I once read that alternative places for launch like Hawaii, Guam, Rocky Mountains, etc., saved money in fuel but lost money in set-up/transportation or had flight paths over populated areas.

    Did you intend to comment about the piss-bottling on the Lynndie England post or were you referring to Amelia Earhart?

    Either way, it is funny… but in different ways.

  • Teadrinker
    10:39 pm on March 21st, 2012 24


    And you know I’ll never make you forget it. ;-)

  • Leon LaPorte
    10:40 pm on March 21st, 2012 25

    22. Haven’t you heard? Bird is the word.

    /you’re welcome :razz:

  • Gigi
    11:50 pm on March 21st, 2012 26

    Is it just me or no one here seems to be concern that that thing is expected to land just 190 miles off the northeast coast of the Philippines..which has almost nothing to do with North Korea?

    On the other hand, this might just be a good international bad exposure for North Korea..and valid reason to stop any aid at all–to-monitor-north-korea-rocket-launch

  • Gigi
    11:52 pm on March 21st, 2012 27

    To think of it that the Philippines has an almost non-existent military….

  • Leon LaPorte
    12:52 am on March 22nd, 2012 28

    The Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas has 125,000 troops.

  • Teadrinker
    2:05 am on March 22nd, 2012 29


    I also wonder if it’s a coincidence that it is set to land so close to the Philippines.

  • Teadrinker
    6:36 am on March 22nd, 2012 30

    Speaking of places where there’s 30C weather in spring…

    Everything’s normal, eh?

  • Gigi
    10:22 am on March 22nd, 2012 31

    @Leon: What do they have besides foot soldiers? :roll: Not that I am dissing them but seriously, they can’t even take care of their own insurgents. :lol:

  • Glans
    1:26 pm on March 22nd, 2012 32

    Gigi,didn’t you hear? They killed an insurgent with a smart bomb.

  • Leon LaPorte
    3:42 pm on March 22nd, 2012 33

    31. Neither can we! :lol:

  • Gigi
    4:04 pm on March 22nd, 2012 34

    yes, 60 years of… Huks, 30 years of MILF :mrgreen: :lol:

  • Denny
    11:06 pm on March 23rd, 2012 35

    U.S. exempts Japan from Iran sanctions

    The United States will spare Japan and 10 European Union nations from U.S. financial sanctions because they have significantly reduced purchases of Iranian crude oil, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

    The decision is a victory for the 11 countries, whose banks need not fear being possibly cut off from the U.S. financial system under new U.S. sanctions designed to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.

    The list did not, however, include China and India, Iran’s top two crude oil importers, nor U.S. allies South Korea and Turkey, which are among the top 10 consumers of Iranian oil.


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