North Korea still engaging in low-level activity at satellite launch pad

May 19 (UPI) — North Korea continues to engage in low levels of activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, from where Pyongyang sent an earth-observation satellite into orbit in February 2016.

Writing for 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, analysts Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. and Jack Liu said satellite imagery taken as recently as May 16 indicate the launch facility was undergoing upgrades.

There is now road construction throughout the site, and excavation of an undefined purpose near the launch pad.

But there were no new indications Pyongyang was preparing another engine test or a launch of a satellite.

“Natural-color and infrared imagery indicate there have not been any unreported rocket engine tests during the past month, and no preparations for a new engine test or satellite launch are apparent,” the analysts write.

North Korea tested a high-thrust rocket engine as recently as March, hailed as a “great leap forward” by state media at the time.

The site is close to where Pyongyang tested four extended-range Scud missiles. According to the analysts, the launch positions from that exercise are “still visible.”

In addition to building new roads, North Korea built a new utility for communications and electricity, which, by April 22, “extended to [a newly graded circular position] … another dirt trail, also running uphill from near the launch pad, was upgraded into a road.”

The investment in infrastructure reflects North Korea’s “long-term commitment to the facility and its space launch programs,” according to the analysts.


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