North Korea claims satellite-capable rocket engine test


North Korea’s news agency KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) claims the country has successfully tested a new state-of-the-art rocket engine, its most powerful yet. Observers are cautious about the power of the new engine, which could be in the range of 160,000 lbf.

The engine will provide the country with “sufficient carrier capability for launching various kinds of satellites,” KCNA said.

Leader Kim Jong-un also called for more tests, so that North Korea will become a “possessor of geostationary satellites in a couple of years to come,” the agency quoted the leader as saying.

Kim also urged officials and researchers to round off preparations for launching satellites as soon as possible, KCNA reported.

The leader “expressed great satisfaction” with the results of the engine test, according to KCNA, which added that the North had made huge scientific advances “despite the difficult economic conditions of the country.”

North Korean media has showed a photo of a long flame coming from the engine, which is propped up by a cement structure.

John Schilling, writing on the website 38 North, said, “The plume coloration indicates that this engine probably uses the high-energy UDMH (unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine) and NTO (nitrogen tetroxide) propellants used by the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile.

“The new engine does not have either vernier nozzles or jet vanes, suggesting the entire engine may be gimballed for steering purposes. This does not appear to be a copy of any Russian engine, but represents a mix of technologies well suited to a North Korean large engine development program.”

The ground test of this new rocket engine follows 20 missile launches and two nuclear blasts so far in 2016.

September 23, 2016

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