North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launch Facility on Standby

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu.

Recent commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station from August 9 indicates that the facility remains at standby status and that no new engine tests have taken place since our report on June 16. There are no visible indications of preparations for either a satellite launch or an engine test. The entire facility appears to be in an excellent state of repair.

Launch Pad

No activity is noted at the launch pad and the adjacent fuel and oxidizers bunkers. However, immediately to the southeast of the launch pad is a site where construction of a new structure has been underway since March. In the past few months, construction has proceeded extremely slowly with only the first stage of the foundation being poured.

Figure 1. No activity observed at the Launch Pad.

Image includes material Pleaides © CNES 2017. Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image, all rights reserved. For media options, please contact thirtyeightnorth@gmail.com.

Figure 2. Close-up of gantry tower and fuel and oxidizer storage bunkers.

Image includes material Pleaides © CNES 2017. Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image, all rights reserved. For media options, please contact thirtyeightnorth@gmail.com.

Figure 3. Construction of new structure still underway.

Image includes material Pleaides © CNES 2017. Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image, all rights reserved. For media options, please contact thirtyeightnorth@gmail.com.

Engine Test Stand

At the vertical engine test stand, the rail-mounted environment shelter (under which rocket engines are prepared for testing) remains positioned adjacent to the stand. There is no scarring seen on the apron of the test stand and vegetation around the stand looks healthy, suggesting no recent engine tests have taken place.

Figure 4. No engine tests appear to have taken place recently.

Image includes material Pleaides © CNES 2017. Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image, all rights reserved. For media options, please contact thirtyeightnorth@gmail.com.

Other Areas

What appear to be several small vehicles can be seen at isolated locations, but no other activity of significance is observed elsewhere in the facility.

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