News of North Korea's abortive rocket launch was announced Friday after Pyongyang admitted that the highly publicized attempt had failed.
“The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit. Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure,” the KCNA official news agency finally said in a brief report.
There is still no word from officials on the ground for foreign journalists invited to the launch by the normally very secretive state to witness what was touted as a historic occasion.
Neighboring South Korea, the country’s Navy launched a salvage operation to retrieve the debris from the failed rocket launch, a military spokesman said.
“We’ve located where the debris landed and we’re making efforts to salvage it,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman told AFP.
The nuclear-armed North, which normally tightly restricts media visits, opened its doors to emphasize what it called its peaceful intentions in space.
The launch was supposed to be the centerpiece of mass celebrations marking the 100th anniversary on Sunday of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-Sung.
The impoverished nation, which suffers persistent food and electricity shortages, spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the launch, according to South Korean officials.
Launch failures may be embarrassing, but they are not uncommon even for wealthy and technologically advanced nations.
Christian Lardier, Space Editor at Air and Cosmos magazine, estimated that there was an average of 75 satellite launch attempts every year worldwide.
Each year there were 4 or 5 failures, he told AFP in Pyongyang.
But North Korea, other analysts said, was likely to be chastened by the failure given the extensive publicity build-up.
Kim Jong-Un, Grandson of Kim Il-Sung, is working to strengthen his authority after taking over power when his own father Kim Jong-Il died last December.
Meanwhile, the US and its allies rushed to condemn North Korea’s failed rocket launch Friday as a provocative act that threatens regional security, while Russia, China and India urged all parties to show restraint.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon termed the launch as “deplorable”.
Source: AFP; KCNA; Al Arabiya – Photo: Reuters