On the 31st, the military retrieved debris believed to be part of a North Korean ‘space launch vehicle’ from the West Sea, where it had crashed.
The military plans to continue search and rescue operations to collect large debris such as the launch vehicle’s engine and military reconnaissance satellites carried on the launch vehicle.
It is analyzed that if major components are also salvaged, it will be an opportunity to significantly increase the level of knowledge about the technological capability of North Korea’s launch vehicles and satellites.
Specifically, the waters about 200 km west of Eocheong Island in the West Sea, where the military salvaged the wreckage, are a sea area that falls under the South Korea-China provisional zone of action.
The temporary operation zone is a water area where Korean and Chinese fishing boats are allowed to fish freely without reporting.
Since the Chinese navy can also salvage the waters, the possibility of a fight between South Korea and China over debris collection cannot be ruled out.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “Around 8:05 am, an object believed to be part of a ‘space launch vehicle claimed by North Korea’ was identified and rescued from the sea approximately 200 km to the west from Eocheong Island.” Eocheongdo is an island about 66 km west of Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do.
The launch time of the military reconnaissance satellite announced by North Korea was 6:27 am on the 31st, and the South Korean military collected debris from the West Sea about 1 hour and 38 minutes after launch.
The water depth in the area where the debris was found is approximately 70m, and the military authorities searched for additional debris.
The military collected debris in the form of a hollow cylindrical shape with red Korean letters written on it that read ‘Inspection Gate 13 (Equipment Construction)’.
In this regard, experts estimated that it was a first stage propellant (fuel and oxidizer) tank.
Lee Chun-geun, an honorary research fellow at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Policy, said in a telephone call with the Kukmin Ilbo, “It should be noted that this cylindrical-shaped debris is a propulsion tank, commonly referred to as a fuel tank. “that” he analyzed.
The military authorities explained that they were on alert after North Korea revealed the launch plan and were preparing in advance to salvage the fallen debris. Several ships, including the Tongyeong Navy water rescue ship, were put into the rescue operation.
An official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “North Korea’s launch procedures, such as moving and positioning the missile, proceeded more quickly than in the past, and we continued to track North Korea’s movements according to that procedure.” We will proceed accordingly,” he said.
In the future search process, the main concern is whether it will be possible to secure major components such as the main body of the North Korean military reconnaissance satellite ‘Malligyeong-1’ or the engine of the space launch vehicle ‘Chollima-1’.
If these components are salvaged, it can provide a basis for understanding the level North Korea’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and missile technology have reached.
Lee Chun-geun, an honorary research fellow, said, “The Baekdusan engine, which is believed to have been applied to ICBMs and space launch vehicles by North Korea, has not yet been known to the outside world.” .
In addition, the analysis of the salvaged wreckage will determine whether North Korea complies with sanctions against North Korea, and whether China and Russia will It can also be a clue to determine whether or not projector technology has been passed down.
This is because if it is confirmed that North Korea, which is under sanctions by the international community, has used foreign parts for rocket engines or satellites, it will be a violation of sanctions against North Korea.
Regarding the announcement as a ‘space launch vehicle’ instead of a ‘ballistic missile’, an official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “It’s a missile that has to have a warhead.”
Reporter Jeong Woo-jin email@example.com