North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station: Construction at the Horizontal Assembly Building

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu

Recent commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station indicates that no new activity has been observed at the engine test stand or launch pad since March 8. However, low levels of activity have been observed at other areas that suggest continued improvements to the complex.

Horizontal Assembly Building

Construction of new workshops or engineering areas at the Horizontal Assembly Building were first observed in imagery from September 2018 and it appears that the roofs were completed by April 18, 2019. Interior work may be ongoing, and material and debris remain in the courtyards and block the exit.

Figure 1. Roofs have been installed on the new workshops or engineering areas at the Horizontal Assembly Building.

Horizontal Assembly Building on September 10, 2018. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
Horizontal Assembly Building on January 15, 2019.Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
Horizontal Assembly Building on April 18, 2019. Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
Horizontal Assembly Building on May 10, 2019.Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

Observation and Telemetry Building

The Observation and Telemetry Building is located on the hilltop 700 meters southeast of the launch pad and records space launch vehicle (SLV) data as it flies almost directly overhead. From that vantage point, the site can track the SLV for several hundred kilometers downrange. A white vehicle, likely a passenger van, was first observed on March 2 and remains in place to date. While the purpose of this vehicle’s presence is unknown, it is likely that improvements are being made to the computers and recording equipment in the support building.

Figure 2. A van has been observed at the Observation and Telemetry Building since March 2.

Figure 2. A van has been observed at the Observation and Telemetry Building since March 2.
Image © 2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
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