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For the 2006 North Korean missile test, see 2006 North Korean missile test.
Rodong and Taepodong 1&2.png
Type Space launcher technology development, possibly ballistic missile
Production history
Manufacturer North Korea
Weight ~79,189 kg
Length ~35.8 m
Diameter 2.0–2.2 m

Engine Liquid
4,000 km–6,000 km (est.)[1]
Speed 6,900–8000 m/s
7,825–7,925 (orbital launch). 9,500–10,500 dv total with losses
Launch Pad
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 대포동 2호
Hancha 大浦洞 2號
Revised Romanization Daepodong 2ho
McCune–Reischauer Taep'odong 2ho
Estimated maximum range of some North Korean missiles [2]

The Taepodong-2 (TD-2, also spelled as Taep'o-dong 2)[3] (Korean: 대포동 2호) is a designation used to indicate a North Korean two or three-stage ballistic missile[4] design that is the successor to the Taepodong-1 technology demonstrator. In 2012 the U.S. Department of Defense assessed that the Taepodong-2 had not been deployed as a missile.[5] The Taepodong-2 is the technology base for the Unha space launch vehicle, and was likely not intended as ICBM technology.[6]


Based on the size of the missile, the fuel composition, and the likely fuel capacity, it is estimated that a two-stage variant would have a range of around 4,000 km (2,500 statute miles) and a three-stage variant would be capable of reaching as far as 4,500 km (2,800 statute miles), giving it potentially the longest range in the North Korean missile arsenal.[3] The burn time of each stage is a little over 100 seconds, thus allowing the missile to burn for 5 or 6 minutes. Speculative variants of the missile could be capable of a range of approximately 9,000 km (5,600 statute miles).[7] At maximum range, the Taepodong-2 is estimated to have a payload capacity of less than 500 kg (~1,100 lbs).[3]

According to a former worker in the publications department of one of North Korea's top research centres, who defected to South Korea, North Korea began development of the missile in 1987.[8]

Very few details concerning the technical specifications of the rocket are public information; even the name "Taepodong-2" is a designation applied by agencies outside North Korea to what is presumed to be a successor to the Taepodong-1. The TD-2 first stage likely uses a liquid propellant (TM-185 fuel and AK-27I oxidizer) driven engine and the second stage likely utilises the Rodong short-range missile.[9] Depending on the range, the estimated payload capacity could be as high as 700–1,000 kg (~1,550 - 2,200 lbs) at short range, making it potentially suitable for conventional weapons payloads, NBC payloads as well as Earth orbit satellite delivery. At maximum range, the Taepodong-2 is estimated to have a payload capacity of less than 500 kg (~1,100 lbs).[3] North Korea has yet to demonstrate the ability to produce a re-entry vehicle, without which North Korea cannot deliver a weapon from an ICBM.[5]

In 2015 aerospace engineer and North Korea missile program analyst, John Schilling, stated creating an operational ICBM out of the Taepodong-2 technology did not appear to be in North Korean plans, and it had been mistaken as an ICBM development whereas it was a space launch vehicle development vehicle.[6]


First stage[edit]

Taepodong-2's first stage consists of four Rodong motors. It is unknown if the first stage has four separate tanks for fuel and four tanks for oxidizer, or if it has two big tanks for fuel and oxidizer like the Unha rocket.[citation needed]

Second and third stages[edit]

Little is known about the Taepodong-2 design beyond the first stage. Most likely the second stage is one of the Scud-derived North Korean ballistic missiles (either Rodong-1 or Hwasong-6), and the third stage most likely uses Chinese solid-fuel engines.[7]


2006 test[edit]

A Taepodong-2 was test fired on July 5, 2006 from the Tonghae test facility. According to reports, the missile failed in mid-flight about 40 seconds after launch.[10]

Subsequent Unha launches[edit]

Main article: Unha

Subsequent launches were intended to launch satellites, using a Taepodong-2 development called the Unha rocket. After two failures in April 2009 and April 2012, its first successful flight, Unha-3, occurred in December 2012 with the launch of the second version of Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 satellite.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Terrible the Taepo?". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. March–April 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  2. ^ BBC News - How potent are North Korea's threats?
  3. ^ a b c d North Korea’s Taepodong and Unha Missiles, Federation of American Scientists, May 30, 2008
  4. ^ Kim, Jack (2009-03-25). "FACTBOX: North Korea's Taepodong-2 long-range missile". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  5. ^ a b Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (PDF) (Report). U.S. Department of Defense. 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  6. ^ a b John Schilling (12 March 2015). "Where's That North Korean ICBM Everyone Was Talking About?". 38 North (U.S.-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies). Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Taepodong-2 specs, globalsecurity.org
  8. ^ Taep'o-dong 2 (TD-2) - North Korea
  9. ^ NTI: Country Overviews: North Korea:
  10. ^ "CNN.com - U.S. officials: North Korea tests long-range missile - Jul 4, 2006". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Fact Sheet: North Korea's Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs". Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. August 2012. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. 

External links[edit]