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North Korea launches yet another ballistic missile test: reports

People watch a TV broadcast showing a file image of a North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station on May 4, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. An unidentified projectile was fired by North Korea toward the East Sea on May 4, according to reports from South Korea's military.
People watch a TV broadcast showing a file image of a North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station on May 4, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. An unidentified projectile was fired by North Korea toward the East Sea on May 4, according to reports from South Korea's military. (Image credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

North Korea just launched another missile test, its 14th already in 2022. 

The missile lifted off Wednesday (May 4) from Sunan, near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, at 12:03 p.m. local time (Tuesday, May 3, at 11:03 p.m. EDT or May 3 at 0303 GMT), according to a New York Times report (opens in new tab) based on South Korean military intelligence. (North Korea, a totalitarian state, provides little official information about its missile activities.)

South Korea's president-elect, Yoon Suk-yeol, will be inaugurated May 10 and is "expected to take a more hawkish stance on relations with the North," the New York Times reported, adding that Yoon will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden in Seoul on May 21 "to discuss how to cope with [the] growing military threat."

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff called the latest missile test by the North "a grave threat" and a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning ballistic launches in that country, the Associated Press (AP) reported (opens in new tab).

Related: North Korea's rocket and missile program (photos)

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country is preparing to expand nuclear arsenals "at the fastest possible speed," because nuclear weapons are a "war deterrent" that could also be used "if any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state." (All of these quotes come from the report by The New York Times, which presumably also handled the translation from Korean.)

Notably, North Korea's first long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in five years took place in March. The ICBM flew as high as 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) and traveled 680 miles (1,100 km) from its launch site before splashing down in Japanese waters, Japanese authorities determined, according to Reuters (opens in new tab)

Japan tracked the latest launch this week and condemned it, per the AP. "North Korea's series of actions that threatens the peace, safety and stability of the international community are impermissible," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters during his visit to Rome.

It's unclear what type of missile North Korea launched this time, along with its range or its maximum altitude, as South Korean and Japanese authorities differed on the numbers. For example, its apogee, or highest point, was reported as 500 miles (800 km) by Japan and 485 miles (780 km) by South Korea, the AP reported.

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.