North Korea claims it sent a spy satellite to orbit for 1st time: report

north korean leader kim jong un sits beside the nation's flag
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during his meeting with Russian President at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region on Sept. 13, 2023 (Image credit: VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

North Korean state media reports the nation has successfully placed its first spy satellite into orbit.

News of the satellite's launch broke when South Korean and Japanese government officials issued warnings that a rocket had been lofted toward Japan on Tuesday (Nov. 21), sparking shelter-in-place warnings throughout the islands of Okinawa. Reuters now reports that North Korean state news agency KCNA says its Malligyong-1 satellite entered orbit at 10:54 p.m. local time (1354 GMT).

"The launch of reconnaissance satellite is a legitimate right of (North Korea) for strengthening its self-defensive capabilities," KCNA announced, according to Reuters.

Related: 0 for 2: North Korea suffers 2nd satellite launch failure this year

The United States has condemned the launch and has urged its international partners and allies to do the same, claiming it involves technologies that support the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile program

In a statement, the White House wrote that the launch is "a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond."

Customers sit near a television showing a news broadcast at a restaurant in Seoul on Nov. 21, 2023, after North Korea launched what it claims is a military spy satellite. (Image credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

If true, the launch marks North Korea's third attempt in recent months to place its first spy satellite in orbit. The first two tries resulted in failure, and the South Korean government claims to have pulled debris from the ocean associated with at least one of those launches.

Following the two failed launches, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss how the two nations might cooperate on spaceflight endeavors, including sharing rocket technology.

North Korean reports say the nation is planning further launches of additional surveillance satellites meant to help keep tabs on South Korea, its rival in a nearly 80-year military stand-off.

South Korea, meanwhile, is reportedly planning to send its first spy satellite to orbit this month on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

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Brett Tingley
Managing Editor,

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.