North Korea’s failed spy satellite’s optical device was “poor” in terms of its resolution and for tracing targets, experts from South Korea and the US have declared.
South Korea’s military retrieved the wreckage of the satellite from the launch in May and said it found that it did not have the capacity for military use as a reconnaissance satellite.
In a statement, it said: “After detailed analysis on major parts of North Korea’s space launch vehicle and satellite which were salvaged, South Korean and US experts have assessed that they had no military utility as a reconnaissance satellite at all”.
South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff recovered debris in a 36-day operation with “numerous” and “key” parts of the satellite salvaged by navy ships, aircraft and drivers.
The South’s military began salvage operations immediately after the debris splashed down off South Korea’s west coast on 31 May.
It comes after Pyongyang announced plans to launch its first military spy satellite – which it said would be used to monitor US activity.
Lee Choon-geun, an expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, said the initial assessment indicated the reconnaissance capability of the equipment was poor in terms of resolution and tracing targets.
Meanwhile Yang Uk, a fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said “the resolution of the optical
device loaded on the satellite was not suitable for military use”.
South Korean military experts said it is the first time South Korea has secured a satellite launched by the North.
The military tracked the launch of the space vehicle and identified a large, cylindrical piece of debris in the water just hours after the launch, but the object sank to the seabed.
It was recovered two weeks later.
Last month, North Korea made a rare candid public admission of the botched launch, saying it was the “gravest failure” but vowing to soon succeed in its orbital quest.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said acquiring a military spy satellite is crucial to beef up his country’s defence capability alongside other high-tech weapons systems such as multi-warhead nuclear missiles, solid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-powered submarines.
The nuclear-armed North has pursued a satellite launch programme since the 1990s and has said it would launch its first
reconnaissance satellite to boost monitoring of US military activities.