North Korea's space program appears to be moving forward.
North Korean state media announced Wednesday (April 19) that the country has built its first spy satellite and is preparing it for launch. According to a report by the Associated Press, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hailed the development as an important milestone for the country's nuclear missile program.
Kim added that North Korea would require multiple spy satellites to bolster the nation's intelligence capabilities, claiming the satellites would enable the nation to "use preemptive military force when the situation demands," according to the report.
On Dec. 19, 2022, North Korea conducted a test flight of a rocket that state media reported would "finish the preparations for the first military reconnaissance satellite by April 2023." That launch sent a test vehicle in a near-vertical trajectory to an altitude of up to 340 miles (550 km) before it splashed into the Sea of Japan.
North Korea also claimed to have conducted the first test of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile on April 14, 2023, according to the Associated Press. If that capability is in fact confirmed, it would greatly increase the nation's ability to strike long-distance targets, including those inside the continental United States.
As North Korea continues to make advances in its space ambitions, the United States is stepping up its space-focused military presence in the region. Just days prior to the launch of North Korea's test rocket in December 2022, the U.S. Space Force announced it was activating U.S. Space Forces Korea.
The new U.S. command aims to provide space-based services, such as missile warning and satellite communications, throughout the Korean peninsula and surrounding area.
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Brett is curious about emerging aerospace technologies, alternative launch concepts, military space developments and uncrewed aircraft systems. Brett's work has appeared on Scientific American, The War Zone, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett enjoys skywatching throughout the dark skies of the Appalachian mountains.