North Korea’s attempt to send a spy satellite into space has failed, and the rocket, booster, and other equipment used in it have sunk into the sea.
The Reuters news agency quoted North Korean state media as saying that the incident took place on Wednesday, while military officials in neighbouring South Korea claimed to have recovered parts of the launch vehicle from the sea.
According to North Korean media, the Cholima One satellite was being launched by the authorities, but its rocket suddenly failed due to engine and fuel system malfunctions.
It was nuclear-armed North Korea’s sixth attempt to launch a satellite since 2016 and was believed to be North Korea’s first spy satellite.
Alarms were raised as soon as the test failed, followed by small-scale evacuation warnings from parts of South Korea and Japan, but there were no reports of damage.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said after the incident that the military had recovered some of the components while further tracing what it believed to be parts of the spacecraft.
The South Korean military also shared photos of some of the material being pulled out of the water, including a large cylinder.
George William Herbert, a professor at the Institute for Nuclear Non-Proliferation, says the material includes a portion of the rocket with an ‘interstage’ section attached to other items.
He added that it is likely that it was a liquid fuel rocket with a round shape and some material inside.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan says that after the incident, the officials of the United States, Japan, and South Korea communicated over the telephone and condemned it in strong terms.
According to the statement, “the three countries have become and will remain on emergency alert.”
A few days ago, North Korean officials said that they will send a spy satellite into space between May 31 and June 11 to monitor the activities of US troops.
South Korea last week sent its first indigenously-made satellite into space, and China sent three astronauts to its space station.