left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Launch likely to succeed: Expert

Updated: 2012-04-13 06:45
By Wu Jiao in Pyongyang ( China Daily)

Opening-up of space program could change country's image

The satellite that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is planning to send into space between Friday and Monday has a 60 to 70 percent chance of succeeding, according to a Russian space expert who is in Pyongyang to watch the launch.

Yuri Karash, a space policy expert with the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, told China Daily that the DPRK will not rush the satellite launch because it is under huge international pressure. The launch is not only technologically important to the DPRK, but also politically, Karash said.

The DPRK has "a fully operational system that has all the necessary elements in place to ensure the successful launch", he said.

The Earth observation satellite will be carried by a long-range Unha-3 rocket and launched in south of Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

The DPRK announced on March 16 that it would launch the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite between Thursday and Monday to mark the 100th birthday of the late leader Kim Il-sung, founder of the DPRK. The announcement triggered worldwide concern.

Rockets can be used for both civilian and military purposes, and Karash said it was difficult to determine by looking at the launch vehicle whether the DPRK's rocket has a peaceful civilian satellite under its nose cone or a nuclear warhead.

But, Karash added, "I have no reason not to believe that the DPRK saying it is 100 percent civilian launch".

"I have no doubt about the launch because they (DPRK) want to become part of the world space community, and want to be accepted as a new-born space power. And the critical condition for such acceptance is the peaceful intention of the country to explore space," Karash said.

The chances of a failed launch are considerably higher for the DPRK compared to countries with more experienced space programs. This is just the DPRK's third launch, and it is using a new type of launch vehicle.

"Yet I think there is a greater chance that it is successful," Karash said.

If the launch is successful and other countries can track the satellite while it's in orbit, the world may form a different opinion about the DPRK's space program, he said.

"If the whole world sees that the DPRK is exploring space completely for peaceful purposes, I am sure the world will accept it as a member of the space community."

Karash said he hopes Pyongyang maintains the momentum generated by the opening-up of its space program.

"I hope they invite journalists and experts every time they launch something into space," Karash said.

The DPRK, which invited more than 100 foreign reporters, cameramen and photographers and experts to watch the launch, has the opportunity to make contributions to science and technology through its space program, Karash said.

Some people have suggested that the DPRK shouldn't invest in its space program because it has other, more pressing, economic issues. Karash dismissed the criticism, and said that even some of the richest countries in the world have problems with poverty.

"If they wait until everybody is fed, they would never go beyond the atmosphere. There is always someone who is poor. We cannot wait until everybody is 100 percent happy on Earth," Karash said.