Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Expert says North Korea’s first spy satellite ‘alive’ and manoeuvrable

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati

According to Reuters, North Korea’s first spy satellite is “alive”, space experts said on Tuesday, after detecting changes in its orbit that suggested Pyongyang was successfully controlling the spacecraft – although its capabilities remain unknown.

The Malligyong-1 satellite, following two previous unsuccessful attempts, was triumphantly launched into orbit in November. Although North Korean state media boasts of the satellite’s ability to capture imagery of sensitive military and political sites, no such evidence has been released to date, leaving its true potential shrouded in mystery.

Marco Langbroek, a satellite expert from Delft University of Technology, affirmed the satellite’s vitality in a recent blog post, highlighting its recent orbital adjustments. These maneuvers, observed from February 19 to 24, indicated a deliberate effort to raise its perigee, solidifying North Korea’s control over the spacecraft.

The successful orbital adjustments have dispelled doubts surrounding the satellite’s functionality. Langbroek emphasized the significance of this development, particularly noting the unexpected presence of an onboard propulsion system, which enables the satellite to extend its operational lifespan through altitude adjustments.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry corroborated these findings, confirming the satellite’s presence in orbit. However, they refrained from offering further details, while Defence Minister Shin Won-sik dismissed speculations about the satellite engaging in reconnaissance activities beyond its orbital maneuvers.

The capability demonstrated by Malligyong-1 to alter its orbit signifies a notable advancement in North Korea’s space technology. Unlike its predecessors, this satellite showcases the ability to maneuver, a feat previously unassociated with North Korean satellites.

Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell noted that the satellite’s corrective maneuvers primarily focused on positioning itself in space rather than displaying any aggressive intent towards other orbital objects. The satellite’s compact size renders it incapable of posing a threat to larger space assets of other nations.

As space activities continue to escalate among global powers, the maneuvering capabilities of satellites have become increasingly crucial. Nations like the United States, Russia, and China have deployed satellites equipped with advanced maneuvering systems, reflecting the growing importance of space for various endeavors, including military operations.

While the primary purpose of satellite maneuvers often involves optimizing their orbital positions, they also serve other functions such as evading space debris or positioning themselves strategically for Earth observation.

Amidst North Korea’s ambitions in space, the prospect of launching additional spy satellites underscores its determination to enhance its reconnaissance capabilities. With plans to deploy three more satellites in 2024, Pyongyang’s advancements in space technology continue to capture global attention and scrutiny.

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