North Korean Satellite Hoax

At about 05:15 Friday morning I happened to be awake and heard a report that North Korea had launched its first satellite. At 06:30 a friend called me from Tokyo to tell me the news. He gave me additional details including the North Korean claims that the satellite had been launched four days earlier by a mis- sile that had overflown Japan and that the satellite was transmitting patriotic music on shortwave. This was all quite interesting. I was looking forward to intercepting the biz- zare signals from from this object. That morning I began checking CNN's web site from time to time for no news, but found nothing. A check of the U.S. Space Command web site was also fruitless. On Saturday morning I noticed that the See-Sat internet news group didn't have a NORAD object ID number or orbital elements for the object - something that I would expect to see for a new satellite. The U.S.'s space surveillance capability is impressive. Its worldwide array of radar and optical sensors can detect a missile launch within seconds. If an ob- ject reaches orbit, the U.S. Space Command can detect it, determine its country of origin, and compute its orbit very quickly. By Saturday afternoon, more than five days had passed and we were still without a NORAD object ID, orbital elements, or an official Space Command announcement that a satellite had been launched. This led me to conclude that the North Kor- ean claim is a hoax. Thus far, the most detailed account of this story is the original North Korean announcement. The entire announcement is shown below. Successful launch of first satellite in DPRK Pyongyang, September 4 (KCNA) -- The Korean Central News Agency Broadcast a report today over the successful launch of the first artificial satellite in the DPRK. The report says: Our scientists and technicians have succeeded in launching the first artificial satellite aboard a multi-stage rocket into orbit. The rocket was launched in the direction of 86 degrees at a launching station in Musudan-ri, Hwadae county, North Hamgyong Province at 12:07 August 31, Juche 87 (1998) and correctly put the satellite into orbit at 12 hours 11 minutes 53 sec- onds in four minutes 53 seconds. The rocket is of three stages. The first stage was separated from the rocket 95 seconds after the launch and fell on the open waters of the East Sea of Korea 253 km off the launching station, that is 40 degrees 51 minutes north latitude 139 degrees 40 minutes east longitude. The second stage opened the capsule in 144 seconds, separated itself from the rocket in 266 seconds and fell on the open waters of the Pacific 1,646 km off from the launching station, that is 40 degrees 13 minutes north latitude 149 degrees 07 minutes east longitude. The third stage put the satellite into orbit 27 seconds after the separation of the second stage. The satellite is running along the oval orbit 218.82 km in the nearest distance from the earth and 6,978.2 km in the farthest distance. Its period is 165 min- utes 6 seconds. The satellite is equipped with necessary sounding instruments. It will contribute to promoting scientific research for peaceful use of outer space. It is also instrumental in confirming the calculation basis for the launch of practical satellites in the future. The satellite is now transmitting the melody of the immortal revolutionary hymns "Song of General Kim Il Sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong Il" and the morse signals "Juche Korea" in 27 mhz. The rocket and satellite which our scientists and technicians correctly put into orbit at one launch are a fruition of our wisdom and technology 100 percent. The successful launch of the first artificial satellite in the DPRK greatly encourages the Korean people in the efforts to build a powerful socialist state under the wise leadership of General Secretary Kim Jong Il. Notes 1. "Juche" is the North Korean policy of self-reliance. It was adopted after the loss of North Korea's Soviet bloc trading partners. 2. Kim Il Sung is North Korea's former Stalinist dictator. During his rule (and after his death) he was revered as a god. 3. The above story was obtained from the Korean Central News Agency web site at --------------------------------------- END ------------------------------------ ASTRONOMY/SPACE ALERT FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Brian Webb, KD6NRP Ventura County, California E-mail: Web Page: 1998 September 07 (Monday) 09:10 PDT