North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launch Facility: No New Activity Since March 8

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu, Peter Makowsky and Jenny Town.

Recent commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) shows no changes to the launch pad or engine test stand between March 8 and March 13.

In imagery from March 8, the construction observed over the past few weeks seemed to have been completed and the two facilities had been cleared of debris. At the launch pad, the rail-mounted transfer/processing structure had been moved to the edge of the pad and the environmental cover had been closed around the gantry tower. In imagery from March 13, the transfer structure remains in the same position and the environmental cover still conceals the gantry tower.

Figure 1. Progression of construction at the Launch Pad.

Figure 1A. Progression of construction at the Launch Pad, March 2. Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
Figure 1B. Progression of construction at the Launch Pad, March 6. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
Figure 1C. Progression of construction at the Launch Pad, March 8. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
Figure 1D. Progression of construction at the Launch Pad, March 13. Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

At the engine test stand, by March 8, construction on the engine support structure seemed to be complete and the rail-mounted environmental shelter (which conceals transfer of rocket engines from the service apron) had been rebuilt and positioned adjacent to the vertical engine test stand. Furthermore, construction materials and debris had been cleared from the service apron leaving only a few fuel/oxidizer tanks in place. Imagery from March 13 shows the environmental shelter remains in the same position.

Figure 2. Progression of construction to rebuild the Vertical Engine Test Stand.

Figure 2A. Progression of construction to rebuild the Engine Test Stand, March 2. Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
Figure 2B. Progression of construction to rebuild the Engine Test Stand, March 6. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
Figure 2C. Progression of construction to rebuild the Engine Test Stand, March 8. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
Figure 2D. Progression of construction to rebuild the Engine Test Stand. Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

Outside of those two key facilities, there is still a vehicle parked at the observation building (since March 2) and a few vehicles at seen at the security administration building near the site’s main entrance.

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