According to the BBC, the recent rocket launched by the North Koreans failed to achive orbit. The BBC quotes the US military thusly:
In a statement on its website, the US Northern Command said North Korea launched a three-stage Taepodong-2 missile at 0230 GMT.
“Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan/East Sea. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean.
“No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan.”
Heavens Above, a orbital object tracking database, confirms the failure.
Perhaps someone should inform the North Koreans?
Rocket science is some pretty demanding stuff. New rockets require a lot of careful design and testing, and failures are commonplace. That’s why you actually do the testing prior to launching valuable payloads. Even so, failures still occur, which is why launch insurance is a good idea.
It seems incredibly unlikely that the North Koreans would be able to independently develop a rocket and successfully put a satellite into orbit on their very first attempt. Not even the US or the former Soviet Union were able to do that without extensive testing, large numbers of rocket scientists, a lot of ICBMs, and huge amounts of funding.
Of course, the Korean state-run media would never admit such a failure. That’s one of the things I love about living in a free country: our failures, in addition to our successes, are widely reported and known (who doesn’t know about the Challenger or Columbia accidents?). We never claim to be perfect, and such failures are experiences that we learn from.
Maybe the North Koreans should prioritize their people’s basic needs (food, water, etc.) rather than wasting resources on space and nuclear programs, not to mention their massive military? It seems like they’ve got their priorities all wrong.