North Korea’s version of NASA aims to send more satellites into orbit in the next few years and is planning on a moon mission within the next 10 years.
An unmanned, no-frills North Korean moon mission in the not-too-distant future isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Outside experts say it’s ambitious, but conceivable. While the U.S. is the only country to have conducted manned lunar missions, other nations have sent unmanned spacecraft there and have in that sense planted their flags.
“It would be a significant increase in technology, not one that is beyond them, but you have to debug each bit,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains an exhaustive blog on international satellites and satellite launches, said in an email to The Associated Press.
“We are planning to develop the Earth observation satellites and to solve communications problems by developing geostationary satellites. All of this work will be the basis for the flight to the moon,” Hyon said on July 28, adding that he personally would like to see that happen “within 10 years’ time.”
North Korea has marked a number of successes in its space program — and, of course, in its development of ever-more-sophisticated long-range missiles for military use. On Wednesday, it test-fired what was believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile into the seas off Japan, the fourth reported weapons launch it has carried out in about two weeks.