The North Korean satellite command center, during an open
house for foreign journalists
North Korea has drawn international ire in the last few months with its plan to launch a satellite—called Bright Shining Star—that the United States and its allies perceived as a veiled attempt to test potential long-range weapons. The US even canceled food relief worth about $200 million dollars to feed the country’s starving population, when the government announced that the launch would go forward as part of the festivities surrounding new leader Kim Jong-un’s rise to power.
The launch attempt today, however, failed, with the satellite breaking up and falling into the Yellow Sea. The satellite, which South Korean estimates say cost the country $450 million to build, reached barely a third of the height required to make orbit.
This does not bode well for the scientists involved in the project, North Korea expert Markus Noland noted on his blog (via NYT):
“The North Koreans have managed in a single stroke to not only defy the U.N. Security Council, the United States and even their patron China, but also demonstrate ineptitude,” Mr. Noland said. “Some of the scientists and engineers associated with the launch are likely facing death or the gulag as scapegoats for this embarrassment.”