North Korea’s Tongchang-ri: Rebuilding Commences on Launch Pad and Engine Test Stand

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu and Jenny Town

Reports of a recent briefing by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) to the National Assembly’s intelligence committee noted that North Korea has started restoring structures on the rocket launch pad at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri).

The North had previously started to dismantle the rail-mounted transfer building on the launch pad along with the engine test stand last year at the beginning of US-DPRK negotiations. While progress was quick at first, both the launch pad and engine test stand had remained in about the same condition since August 2018. However, based on commercial satellite imagery, efforts to rebuild these structures started sometime between February 16 and March 2, 2019.

On the launch pad, the rail-mounted transfer building is being reassembled. Two support cranes are observed at the building, the walls have been erected and a new roof added. The walls appear to be one segment taller than the previous transfer building and new truss is being installed. The materials that have been stacked on the pad over the past few months are gone.

Figure 1. Rail-mounted transfer building is being rebuilt.

Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

At the engine test stand, it appears that the engine support structure is being reassembled. Two cranes are present and construction materials are spread across the stand’s apron. New roofs have been installed on the fuel and oxidizer buildings and what appear to be possible trailers are observed on the apron.

Figure 2. Engine support structure of the engine test stand is being reassembled.

Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
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