North Korea says satellite launch fails, plans to try again

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Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea’s attempt to launch a military reconnaissance satellite failed Wednesday when the second stage of the rocket failed, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, adding that Pyongyang planned to carry out a second launch as soon as possible.

“The new satellite vehicle rocket, Chollima-1, crashed into the West Sea ​​as it lost propulsion due to an abnormal startup of the engine on the 2nd stage after the 1st stage was separated during normal flight,” KCNA said.

The report said “the reliability and stability of the new engine system” was “low” and the fuel used “unstable,” leading to the mission’s failure.

North Korea’s National Space Development Agency said it would investigate the failure “urgently” and carry out another launch after new testing, KCNA reported.

The South Korean Joint Chief of Staff said it identified an object presumed to be part of what North Korea claims to be its space launch vehicle in the sea about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Eocheong Island at around 8:05 a.m. and is in the process of obtaining it.

Earlier, South Korea’s military said Pyongyang fired a “space projectile,” triggering emergency alerts in Seoul and Japan, weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered officials to prepare to launch the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch occurred around 6:29 a.m. Two minutes later, an air raid siren sounded in Seoul, and a minute after that a text message was sent urging residents to “prepare to evacuate and allow children and the elderly evacuate first.”

Another message followed at 6:41 a.m. to say the warnings were “sent in error.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry had warned on Monday it would destroy any North Korean missile that entered its territory after Pyongyang notified the country of plans to launch a “satellite” between May 31 and June 11.

Wednesday’s launch triggered alarms in Japan, where alerts issued for the Okinawa prefecture were later recalled after authorities there determined there was no threat to Japanese territory.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectile was launched from Tongchang-ri, Pyongan province towards the south, and was detected flying over the west of Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea.

A separate warning was issued for Baengnyeong Island that was lifted just after 8 a.m, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Safety, which said the projectile was launched over the West Sea.