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Mission type Earth observation
Operator NADA
COSPAR ID 2016-009A
SATCAT no. 41332
Mission duration 4 years (planned)
Spacecraft properties
Dry mass 150 to 200 Kilograms[1]
Start of mission
Launch date 7 February 2016, 00:30 UTC
Rocket Kwangmyongsong
Launch site Sohae Space Center
Orbital parameters
Reference system Sun-synchronous orbit
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 465 kilometres (289 mi)
Apogee 502 kilometres (312 mi)
Inclination 97.5 degrees
Period 94 minutes, 24 seconds
Chosŏn'gŭl 광명성―4호
Hancha 光明星4號
Revised Romanization Gwangmyeongseong-4 ho
McCune–Reischauer Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4
Satellite launches of North Korea. ①: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 ②: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 ③: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 ④: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4

Kwangmyongsong-4 (Korean for Bright Star-4 or Lodestar-4) or KMS-4[2] is an earth observation satellite launched by North Korea on 7 February 2016.

The launch happened after North Korea conducted a nuclear test on 6 January and as the United Nations Security Council was deciding on sanctions to be placed on the country following the nuclear test. The launch was also timed to celebrate the 74th birthday of the late leader Kim Jong-il on February 16.


On 2 February 2016, North Korea sent a notification to the International Maritime Organization stating that the country was going to launch a Kwangmyongsong earth observation satellite with a launch window of 8–25 February between 22:30 UTC and 03:30 UTC given. The notification also included the drop zones for the first stage, the payload fairing and the second stage of the rocket, which was similar to the areas designated for the launch of Kwangmyongsong-3 Unit 2.[3]

On 6 February 2016, North Korea sent another notification to the International Maritime Organization stating that the launch window had been changed to 7–14 February.[4]


Order on launching the satellite, signed by Kim Jong-un

The satellite was launched on 7 February 2016 at 00:30 UTC into roughly a sun-synchronous orbit well suited for an earth observation satellite,[5] using an Unha launch vehicle[6] at Sohae Space Centre in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province.[7] Regarded as sending a message to both neighboring China as well as the United States, the launch also took place on the eve of the Chinese New Year and the Super Bowl in United States.[8]

It was initially claimed by U.S. officials that the satellite was "tumbling in orbit" and that no signals had yet been detected being transmitted from it.[9] However, it was later reported the tumbling had been brought under control and the orbit stabilized.[10] This indicates that the satellite has established communication with North Korea.

The head of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command stated that Kwangmyongsong-4 was almost twice as large as Kwangmyongsong-3, and South Korean officials estimated the mass as 200 kilograms (440 lb).[11]


North Korea registered the satellite with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on May 9.[12]

In addition to claiming North Korea was planning a moon mission, Hyon Kwang-il, director of the scientific research department at NADA, said the satellite had completed 2,513 orbits and had transmitted 700 photographic images in the day following its launch.[13] The satellite passes over North Korea four times a day and continues to transmit data.[needs update] However, international experts, such as astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, have not confirmed any transmissions from the satellite.[13]

In May 2017 North Korea has released satellite images of THAAD site in Seongju county, South Korea.[14]


Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper extra informing Japanese readers about the launch

The North Korean government organized a fireworks display on February 7, 2016 in commemoration of the launch.[15]

South Korea, Japan, the United States and other countries have accused North Korea of testing a ballistic missile (Unha is the satellite launch version of Taepodong-2) capable of hitting the United States.[6][16] However, some experts believe North Korea is still a decade away from having the capability to successfully deliver a nuclear weapon by means of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and the launch shows slow, but continuous, progress.[17] The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency stated the launch was not a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.[10]

The launch was strongly condemned by the UN Security Council.[18][19][20] It prompted South Korea and the United States to announce that they would explore the possibility of deploying Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD),[21][22] an advanced missile defence system, in South Korea, which is strongly opposed by China[23] and Russia.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Status of North Korean Satellite unknown after prolonged Radio Silence, Reports of Tumbling". Spaceflight101. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Launch notification reveals rocket drop zones - North Korea Tech". Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  4. ^ "All systems go? DPRK brings forward launch window - North Korea Tech". Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  5. ^ John Schilling (9 February 2016). "North Korea's Space Launch: An Initial Assessment". 38 North. U.S.-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Ju-min Park; Jack Kim (7 February 2016). "North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbours, U.S." Reuters. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "DPRK announces successful launch of Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite - CCTV News - English". Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  8. ^ North Korea’s 'successful' satellite in orbit - ARS Technica, 2/10/2016, 12:41 AM
  9. ^ North Korean satellite "tumbling in orbit," U.S. officials say -, 8 February 2016
  10. ^ a b Andrea Shalal; David Brunnstrom (10 February 2016). "North Korea satellite in stable orbit but not seen transmitting: U.S. sources". Reuters. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  11. ^ David Brunnstrom (11 February 2016). "North Korea satellite not transmitting, but rocket payload a concern - U.S." Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  12. ^ Byrne, Leo (27 May 2016). "North Korea Registers Satellite with UN". NK News. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "AP Exclusive: North Korea hopes to plant flag on the moon". Associated Press. 4 August 2016. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ellis, Ralph; Kwon, K.J.; Ap, Tiffany; Hume, Tim (8 February 2016). "North Korea celebrates satellite launch with fireworks display". CNN. 
  16. ^ Ralph Ellis, K.J. Kwon and Tiffany Ap, CNN (6 February 2016). "U.S., other nations condemn North Korean rocket launch -". CNN. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  17. ^ Jack Kim; David Brunnstrom (9 February 2016). "North Korea turns to 'old workhorse' rocket to repeat past success". Reuters. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  18. ^ "UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  19. ^ "U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea launch -". CNN. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  20. ^ Gayle, Justin McCurry Damien; agencies (2016-02-07). "North Korea rocket launch: UN security council condemns latest violation". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  21. ^ "China worried over US-South Korea plans to deploy THAAD missile system - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  22. ^ "Korea says THAAD 'helpful' to security". koreatimes. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  23. ^ "North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbours, U.S." Reuters UK. Retrieved 2016-02-07. 
  24. ^ Diplomat, John Power, The. "Russia: Korean THAAD Deployment Is a Security Threat". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 

External links[edit]