North Korea plans to try again to orbit satellite (and test ICBM tech)

The Unha-3 rocket, the platform for North Korea's (sort of) successful satellite launch in 2012. Another launch has been announced for February.

Watch the skies. In an alert filed with the United Nations' International Maritime Organization, the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (otherwise known as North Korea) announced plans to launch a satellite sometime in February. The nation also provided warnings for the areas where its boost stages might plummet back to the surface. Japan's Ministry of Defense has since announced that Japan will shoot down the rocket if it flies toward Japan.

The launch, from North Korea's western coast near its border with China, will likely be the latest version of North Korea's Kwangmyŏngsŏng ("Bright Star") satellite series, aboard the latest version of the Unha ("Galaxy") rocket. The splash locations given by North Korea for the launch—the first stage landing in the Yellow Sea between South Korea and China and the second in the Philippine Sea east of the Philippines—are nearly identical to those of North Korea's last orbital effort.

The launch announcement comes just a month after a surprise nuclear weapons test in which the regime of Kim Jong-un claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb. North Korea also claims to have developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be placed atop a ballistic missile, though US intelligence officials have downplayed those reports.

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