North Korea first launched its “Unha-2” rocket from Musudan-ri in the northeast of the country on April 5, 2009. The launch occurred at 02:30 UTC. No confirmation of the planned Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite orbital insertion was subsequently reported. North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command did not track any objects entering orbit, but called the “Taepo Dong 2 missile” a “space launch vehicle”.
Unha-2 is believed to be a three-stage rocket derived from North Korea’s Taepo Dong 2 ballistic missile – a missile that first flew, unsuccessfully, in 2006. Japanese authorities reported that the rocket’s first stage fell into the Sea of Japan and that the second stage had flown over Japan on a due-east trajectory. Prior to the launch, North Korea announced that the first stage would fall 500-750 km downrange and that the second stage would fall 3,150-3,950 km downrange.
South Korean officials said that the second stage had landed short of its planned drop zone, implying a possible second stage failure. Other reports suggested that the second stage did reach full range, implying a separation or third stage failure.
Taepo Dong 2 first flew on July 5, 2006. The rocket, believed to have been attempting a suborbital test, failed after only 40 seconds. Taepo Dong 2’s big new first stage is thought to be powered by four engines, one of which powered the country’s earlier Taepo Dong 1 first stage. The four engines may produce 112 tonnes of liftoff thrust, sufficient to rapidly lift the 78 tonne launch vehicle.
North Korea’s first orbital space launch attempt occurred on August 31, 1998. That failed launch was performed by a Taepo Dong 1 rocket. Taepo Dong 1 used a solid motor third stage, a Scud-missile-based second stage, and a “Rodong-1” based first stage. Rodong-1 was a North Korean-developed stage thought to be a scale-up of the old Soviet Scud missile. Taepo Dong 1 stood 22.5 meters tall, was 1.8 meters in diameter, and weighed about 21 tonnes.
Also read: Tsyklon – Space Launch Report
250 km x 90 deg
|Unha 2||0.1 t?||2 Stg Taepo Dong 2 with solid Stg 3||27 m||78 t|
Vehicle Components (Estimates Only)
|Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3|
|Diameter (m)||2.25 m||1.3 m||1 m|
|Length (m)||14 m||8 m||5 m (incl PLF)|
|Propellant Mass (tons)||60 t||9 t||0.8 t|
|Total Mass (tons)||66 t||11 t||1.0 t|
|Oxidizer||Nitric Acid/N2O4||Nitric Acid/N2O4||Solid|
|–||21 t||5.4 t|
|ISP (SL sec)||s||–||–|
|ISP (Vac sec)||s||s||s|
|Burn Time (sec)||110 s||110 s||40 s|