North Korean Spy Satellite Launches End In Midair Explosion

FILE - This photo provided by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a speech during a parliament in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sept. 8, 2022. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. North Korea on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022 fired a ballistic missile over Japan, its neighbors said, escalating tests of weapons designed to strike key targets in regional U.S. allies amid stalled nuclear diplomacy. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

A North Korean rocket carrying its second spy satellite exploded midair on Monday, state media reported, after its neighbors strongly rebuked its planned launch.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said it launched a spy satellite aboard a new rocket at its main northwestern space center. But KCNA said the rocket blew up during a first-stage flight soon after liftoff due to a suspected engine problem.

Earlier Monday, North Korea had notified Japan’s coast guard about its plans to launch “a satellite rocket,” with a warning to exercise caution in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and China and east of the main Philippine island of Luzon during a launch window from Monday through June 3.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff later said it detected a launch trajectory believed to be of a spy satellite fired from the North’s main space center at 10:44 p.m. on Monday.

But minutes later “many fragments of the projectile were detected in North Korean waters, and the U.S. and South Korea are analyzing whether it had an operational flight,” the JCS added.

Japanese Prime Minister’s Office earlier issued a missile alert for the island of Okinawa following North Korea’s launch. The alert was lifted soon after.

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