North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station: Minor Activity at the Horizontal Assembly Building May Be Agricultural

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu

Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates no new activity at the Launch Pad or Engine Test Stand at North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station. Some activity has been observed at the Horizontal Assembly Building, the nature of which is unclear but is likely related to agricultural activities.

Imagery from May 10 of the Horizontal Assembly Building shows brownish material lining the sides of the lot on the northwest side of the building. On September 8, this material appears to be greenish vegetation. On October 20, the material along the sides is brownish again, and there is brownish color material in the middle of the lot as well, although the resolution is not sufficient to determine what that material may be. On November 1, while the probable vegetation along the sides of the lot remains in a consistent pattern, there are three square likely tarped objects in the center of the lot and unknown materials spread out and layered right outside the facility walls. While unclear what these materials are, given the lack of missile test activity in recent months, it appears this space is being used to support local harvesting activities, an occurrence not uncommon in North Korea.

Figure 1. No new activity at the Launch Pad.

Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

Figure 2. No new activity at the Engine Test Stand.

Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

Figure 3. Probable agricultural activity around the Horizontal Assembly Building. 

May 10, 2019. Image © 2019 Maxar Technologies. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
September 8, 2019. Image © 2019 Maxar Technologies. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]
October 20, 2019. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
November 1, 2019. Image Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]
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