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The Military Government News

North Korea Missile Launch Fails 609

Posted by timothy
from the one-of-the-strings-must-have-broken dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Remember the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch by the North Koreans last night? You know, the one that went over Japan and supposedly put a 'communications satellite' into orbit. Well, according to the US Northern Command and NORAD it has been a complete and utter failure, with the second stage and payload 'falling in the Pacific.'"
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North Korea Missile Launch Fails

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  • ... lol. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:48PM (#27470139)
    Fail.
    • PROPAGANDA (Score:5, Funny)

      by linhares (1241614) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:03PM (#27470293)
      How do you know that's true if you're not reading the official North Kolea [blogspot.com] Blog?
    • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:05PM (#27470321) Journal

      Unless the real goal was to prove that they can nuke Japan.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) *

        Yes, because that would be a great idea on their part.

        Seriously, when are we going to stop believing our governments' attempts to keep us scared of one bogey man after another?

        What would the DPRK possibly benefit by nuking Japan, other than the safe knowledge they'd need a pretty accurate stopwatch to measure the very short span of time between them doing that and their government being vaporized as every other nation on Earth expressed their displeasure with large amounts of ordinance.

        Japan poses no threat

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

          What would the DPRK possibly benefit by nuking Japan, other than the safe knowledge they'd need a pretty accurate stopwatch to measure the very short span of time between them doing that and their government being vaporized as every other nation on Earth expressed their displeasure with large amounts of ordinance.

          I expect the government of the DPRK to behave about as rationally as the US government [youtube.com]...
          Actually I think they gave the government too much credit in that video.

          • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday April 06, 2009 @03:00AM (#27473003)

            If you are predictable people just walk all over you. See Iraq for an example. If you appear insane they keep away.

             

            • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:11AM (#27475421) Homepage Journal
              "If you are predictable people just walk all over you. See Iraq for an example. If you appear insane they keep away."

              I'm not quite sure Saddam Hussein was considered "sane" by any stretch of the imagination.

              In fact...if he had simply FULLY cooperated with the sanctions and inspections, and quit trying to appear he was hiding nuke asperations...he'd likely still be breathing, and in power.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:11PM (#27470917) Homepage
          You are aware that North Korea does shit that makes no sense? Like sending commandos in submarines to kidnap Japanese and South Koreans. Or DMZ violations, involving killing US troops. But ok...I'm sure Bush put them up to that...or made it up.
        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Informative)

          by bds1986 (1268378) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:21PM (#27470987)

          What would the DPRK possibly benefit by nuking Japan

          Nothing. But that doesn't stop the DPRK from benefiting from having the capability to nuke Japan. The DPRK is heavily dependent on aid from the West, having a nuclear stick allows it to demand aid on far more favourable terms and remain relevant on the world stage.

          US-DPRK relations are an artifact of the cold war,

          They're like that because the DPRK still acts like the Cold War is on, with cross border skirmishes with the South every few years at least. Not to mention the fact that the Korean War never officially ended.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Toonol (1057698) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:28PM (#27471051)
          They don't benefit from nuking Japan. But the benefit GREATLY by being ABLE to nuke Japan.

          Just like their ability to annihilate Seoul; it would be a suicide attack, but that doesn't stop it from keeping the entire civilized world at bay.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There's enough BS in your post to solve world hunger.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by osvenskan (1446645) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:41PM (#27471129)

          Why would any nation want to isolate itself the way the DPRK is isolated?

          Same reason they might start a war they couldn't possibly win -- because their leader is an unpredictable nutjob.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Opportunist (166417)

            Rather, when you're faced with annihilation (from, say, the few people of your country that are still able to move gathering and kicking you out of your cushy office), you might consider saying "gimme or I shoot".

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:47PM (#27471169)
          why would they want to indeed, the mistake is you think the DPRK are doing any analytical thinking of their own. i don't believe they would be stupid enough to attack japan. but don't make the mistake of thinking they are the victims of unfair treatment by the big bad USA just because they are communist. After all china is a communist state as well yet the USA and china have a comparitively hugs and kisses relationship.

          bottom line, is the world doesn't trust countries run by crackpot dictators, and rightly so.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jeffmeden (135043) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:15PM (#27471423) Homepage Journal

          I don't buy it. They have a pretty solid dictatorship going with heavy communistic leanings. This displeases a lot of governments besides the US. If they wanted to be the world's friend, they could just not act aggressively (it's not like South Korea is really waiting for their chance to strike, they are fine letting North Korea just do their thing.) So, why the attitude? Let's look at Cuba, they learned the hard way that a missile "defense" strategy is a good way to lose friends, but for the few decades since, they have been going along fine with no militaristic tendencies and they haven't been overthrown by Turks n' Caicos or one of the many other nations drooling at the chance to storm Havana.

          So is North Korea really a bogeyman? I think they give themselves a lot more headache than anyone else tries to pin on them. Why not just set up a "cute dictatorship" by declaring Kim Jong Il "familial monarch" (britain I am looking at you) or "prime minister" (russia I am looking at you) and then hold an election to find a "president" to give things an air of democracy. That way you can at least say you are trying, even if you still do things like invading peaceful neighbors (russia, again.)

          That being said, it is nice (as a US citizen) having an international jerk around, it makes the US not look so bad.

          • Re:... lol. (Score:4, Informative)

            by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:36PM (#27471601)
            Strangely enough, there was a time when this looked like it was happening. Back in 2000, Korea (north and south) marched under the same flag as tensions eased. Kim was portrayed as 'cuddly' in the SK media as there was some expectation that people would come to the table and conciliation might occur. Of course, it didn't pan out that way and before you knew it, Kim was once again painted as a nutso nutjob nutter. It's all about perception and how it 'plays' to portray them.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by gtall (79522)

              That might have had something to do with Clinton administration warning the incoming Bush administration that N. Korea was sandbagging on the last nuke treaty they signed. N. Korea did dismantle the nuke plant in question, but failed to report they were building a newer better one. When Bush got into office, he was presented with a N. Korea that had been caught clearly lying.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            So is North Korea really a bogeyman? I think they give themselves a lot more headache than anyone else tries to pin on them. Why not just set up a "cute dictatorship" by declaring Kim Jong Il "familial monarch" (britain I am looking at you) or "prime minister"

            I think you totally misunderstand how these governments really work. The slightest hint that they are unwilling to use force against people, the whole thing disappears - everyone goes from loving the leader to hating his guts overnight. And then the people that run it get killed like Ceausescu and his secret police goons did unless they can leave the country really fast.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by osu-neko (2604) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:24PM (#27471495)

          Seriously, how about we stop eating the BS they feed us and doing a little analytical thinking for ourselves for a change? Anyone?

          Okay.

          Why would any nation want to isolate itself the way the DPRK is isolated?

          This question is nonsensical. It's the kind of rhetorical fodder to feed those who are incapable of actually engaging in logical analysis and thinking for themselves. Anyone who does so would immediately note that a nation cannot want anything, as it is a non-physical abstraction incapable of independent thought. Possibly you mean, "why would the leader of a nation want..." or "why would the party leadership want..." or "why would the man on the street want...", but of course the answers to all these questions are likely to be different. Making the question nonsensical forces the reader to rationalize it in their own manner, and thus causes the largest number of readers to act as if this is a sensible question, and treat what you're saying with a "yeah, man, you're right" attitude even when you're not saying anything. This is why questions like this one you're asking here are so powerful tools against people who don't actually analyze very well, they even repeat them without noticing they are contentless rhetorical tools.

          The real problem for you here is, if you actually make a sensible question out of this, no matter which way you go, it either has a sensible answer, or it's immediately obvious that it's not a relevant question. It's easy to come up with reasons why a dictator would want to isolate a country (and the DPRK is not the only example of this, see Burma, for example, or any number of isolationist regimes of many nations over the years). It's maybe not to easy to see why the man on the street would want it, but then it hardly matters what they want in a non-democratic country.

          US-DPRK relations are an artifact of the cold war,

          ...as is much of the current world power structure and even a number of nations, yes.

          ...and unlike the USSR, no state large enough to actually compete with the US emerged there, so the tiny country is being stomped on for no good reason other than for siding with the losing superpower from the twentieth century.

          ...as did a large number of countries at one time or another, which are not similarly isolated. This would indicate that the reasons for the isolation are more complex than this rather facile treatment. Without even going into details, it's apparent from even a cursory bit of logical analysis that most of what you've said here is wrong, incomplete, or meaningless (indeed, I would say the majority of what you posted was, in fact, "not even wrong").

          Reading and thinking analytically, it's actually pretty hard to form a rebuttal to what you said, since you in fact said almost nothing. You asked a bunch of questions that were mostly vague and nonsensical, but to the extent you did say or at least imply anything, it would appear to be poorly thought out or ill-informed.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by db32 (862117) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:26PM (#27471513) Journal

          Uhm...speaking of analytical thinking... Would you care to enumerate the number of nuclear weapons that were fired by Russia or the US at each other during the Cold War? I mean...the whole point is to NOT USE THE FUCKING THINGS. That is what Mutually Assured Destruction is all about. The notion that you could "win" a nuclear war was pretty much entirely abandoned a long time ago. The only people that really have any intention of USING them are psychotic. (See Iran declaring that Israel should be wiped off the map, or Dubya asking for "tactical" nuclear weapons to be developed). The whole point behind them is to join the ranks of countries that can bring a tremendous amount of hurt, because if you can't nuke someone you don't get taken seriously.

          Iran - May have nukes or very close - No invasion.

          NK - May have nukes or very close - No invasion.

          Iraq - Everyone pretended they could have nukes, but most people knew they didn't - Invasion!

          Iraq got stuck in a pretty bad situation. Admit to the world they don't have nuclear capabilities and aren't close to having them and face the wrath of the Iranians or Saudies as the world looked the other way, or pretend they did have the capabilities and hope to God that no one would invade.

          NK is going to be very interested in demonstrating that it has nuclear capabilities and the ability to deliver them (even if at a rather limited range). It sends the message "fuck with us and we will murder millions". Now, I agree that there has been a great deal of overly aggressive rhetoric, but those NK folks aren't exactly the most friendly bunch to begin with. In fact their leadership tends to show quite a bit of psychotic behavior. There have been people defecting from NK for years telling the world that ol Kimmy thinks he can fight with the big dogs and win. The really disturbing ones are the people that escape to China and are shocked by how "free" they are there.

          Now...to answer why would any nation want to be that isolated...well...because it allows their psychotic dictators to rule with an iron fist. Some of these freaks are content with ruling their little corner of the earth with absolute power rather than expanding their lands and making it harder to control with absolute power. Ol Kimmy fashions himself to be a God much like the Egyptian Pharohs...that kind of nonsense doesn't really work out well unless you keep the people isolated from the rest of the world, and what better way to do that then enlist the aid of the rest of the world.

        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by goodmanj (234846) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:32PM (#27471565)

          Why would any nation want to isolate itself the way the DPRK is isolated?

          Because the nation's leader is a vain, paranoid demagogue, who knows that if his people ever come in contact with the outside world and realize that the rest of the world is mostly full of nice, reasonable people who get to eat more than 500 calories a day, they'll all rise up and murder him in his sleep.

          the tiny country is being stomped on for no good reason other than for siding with the losing superpower from the twentieth century

          That, and the fact that the moment the world stops stomping, they'll march a million men across the border and burn Seoul, one of the greatest free cities on Earth, to the ground.

          You may be right that their posturing towards the U.S. is a result of their being boxed in by cold war politics. But they've made it clear that their attitude towards South Korea is anything but posturing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ckaminski (82854)
          Which is why they are doing this. To be taken seriously. Because if you're a government some part of the world doesn't like, you need nuclear weapons to have a seat at the bargaining table.
        • Re:... lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cyn1c77 (928549) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:03PM (#27471799)

          Why would any nation want to isolate itself the way the DPRK is isolated?

          Seriously, how about we stop eating the BS they feed us and doing a little analytical thinking for ourselves for a change? Anyone?

          Yeah, how about you do a little analytical thinking.

          The GOVERNMENT of the DPRK isolates themselves so that they can stay in power. By being isolated, they have total control of their citizens and are able to prevent uprisings.

          For North Korea, it's not about the welfare of the citizens, it's about maintaining the phat lifestyle of the people in charge. Having the potential to attack other countries (even if it is suicidal), helps ensure the North Korea will be left alone from international meddling and possibly even get some concessions for "giving up" nukes and ballistic missiles in the future.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gtall (79522)

          Maybe payback for the years spent under Japanese occupation? Just because you have the memory of a gnat doesn't mean others do as well. Hell, the Muslims are still arguing over of the results of the third Caliph getting whacked in 656. My experience with Asians is they are not likely to easily forget Japanese domination.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by servognome (738846)

          What would the DPRK possibly benefit by nuking Japan, other than the safe knowledge they'd need a pretty accurate stopwatch to measure the very short span of time between them doing that and their government being vaporized as every other nation on Earth expressed their displeasure with large amounts of ordinance.

          The game is politics, not war

          As others have mentioned, they don't benefit from nuking Japan, they benefit from the ability to nuke Japan. The threat of violence is often a more powerful political

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Myrcutio (1006333)
        that's an interesting way to threaten someone.

        "Hey, if you thought our satellite-rockets were lousy, wait til you see our nukes!"

        At least the japanese nuclear radiation doesn't effect humans [imdb.com]
  • Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnsonav (1098915) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:50PM (#27470157) Journal

    This might be a great opportunity to see exactly how far advanced their missile/rocket program is, assuming we've got salvage vessels in place to pick up the pieces.

    • by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:09PM (#27470349) Homepage

      The outcome of the test says a lot more about that than anything we would discover by forensic analysis (which is of course precisely why they were performing the test).

      I'm sure you could put Kim Jong Il in a hissy-fit by saying you found it and were reverse engineering secret NK technology, however. ;)

      • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

        by XorNand (517466) * on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:13PM (#27470405)
        Not necessarily. I'm sure Western scientists would love to know *why* it failed. It would be interesting to know if we have the capability to salvage it though (assuming North Korea didn't include an auto-destroy mechanism onboard).
        • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

          by RoboRay (735839) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:24PM (#27470513)

          The US definitely have the ability to salvage it, if it were found. Locating it would be the hard part. Just estimating, but I'd have to put the probability at just about zero.

          • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ehintz (10572) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:11PM (#27470909) Homepage

            Your estimate is almost certainly far too pessimistic.

            The USN was doing skunkworks stuff during the cold war, with purpose-outfitted subs, finding interesting bits of Soviet hardware in some crazy deep waters. I seriously doubt that they've forgotten how to do it. My money would be that they've continue to develop the capability, but even if all it's done is stagnate they've already proven very competent at finding Soviet needles in oceanic haystacks. And NORAD will have some very accurate tracking to help them start the search. Hell, I'd bet even money they've already got something out in the Pacific somewhere waiting for just such an opportunity. Or there's a lot of crewmen who just went off leave all of a sudden.

            Have a read of "Blind Man's Bluff" sometime, there's some rather fascinating escapades in there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)
          The missile had to land in the Pacific. The NK leadership may be crazy but they are not stupid. Flying a launcher over the USA creates a risk that hardware would drop on to the USA. If that happened North Korea would be in all kinds of trouble. They know that and will not allow their launchers to leave the pacific ocean. I would be interested to see how high this launcher flew though. That would tell us how much energy they have available.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by glueball (232492)


          Western scientists would love to know *why* it failed

          Maybe. What might be more interesting is to know the precise machining and designs that worked so that a "signature" NK ICBM was cataloged. This way, if the same machining shows up in Iran, Syria, or others the world community can trace the lineage.

        • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:09PM (#27470885)

          assuming North Korea didn't include an auto-destroy mechanism onboard

          If they did, they better hope it worked better the the rest of the mission.
          Turns out, it IS rocket science! Who'da thunkit?

      • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:27PM (#27470549) Journal
        Given that even contemporary western satellite launches, with a few decades of technology and refinement at their backs and with paying customers on the line, fail from time to time; I strongly suspect that there are a lot of people who would very much like to know if this launch was "the tech is utter shit, I'd be surprised if 1 in 100 actually perform as advertised" or "eh, probably ~10% chance of this happening on a given launch, bad luck for the first go".

        Might also be interesting to see what sort of "communications satellite" was heading for Tokyo and/or orbit.
        • Re:Opportunity (Score:4, Interesting)

          by joocemann (1273720) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @09:47PM (#27471177)

          It doesn't matter. We have missile intercept technology since over a decade ago. Remember how the Chinese shat bricks over our starwars program? Furthermore, if N.Korea decides to truly do anything in that caliber, they will be strongly smitten by all major forces of the world ---- to the point of nonexistence. ... The true worry is what would we do with the N. Koreans that survive! Is it appropriate to rebrainwaish them to be 'unbrainwashed'? If not, do we let them freely into the rest of the world that they are so heavily influenced to hate and wish harm upon? Do we leave them there to rot and die, and regain a small existence that is simply a smaller version of what they currently already have?

          Bananas.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            And that anti-missile technology is far better in theory than in practice. Literature on the failures of anti-missile systems abound, from credible scientists, such as http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0102-02.htm [commondreams.org]. Much like North Korean missiles, US anti-missile technology is far better in theory than in practice and should not be relied on for actually stopping missiles. The major use of the 1980's "Star Wars" effort was to drive the Soviet Union to military bankruptcy, trying to keep up with crackp

        • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bitrex (859228) on Monday April 06, 2009 @02:07AM (#27472751)
          North Korea's entire ballistic missile program has essentially based on cobbling together different variations of Soviet Scud missiles, a design which the essentials of are approaching 60 years old. The major advance for the Taepodong-2 would be the use of the R-27 first stage, which I believe actually has gimbaled main engines instead of graphite fins for thrust vectoring. If it's true that the failure occurred at second stage ignition instead of with the first stage only a few seconds after launch (as has been the case in the past) then they've overcome a major hurdle, as a gimbaled first stage is essential to get good efficiency for long ranges. The Nodong based second stage appears to be a proven design, so if the problem is just the interfacing my somewhat-educated guess is that they're 90% of the way there. Of course the second stage probably is still using fins for thrust vectoring so the CEP of the unholy combination would probably something laughable by modern standards like 10 miles, but obviously one gets the feeling that range is their big concern right now, not accuracy.
      • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by johnsonav (1098915) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:29PM (#27470581) Journal

        The outcome of the test says a lot more about that than anything we would discover by forensic analysis (which is of course precisely why they were performing the test).

        I don't think so. The remaining pieces of the rocket might be able to tell us quite a lot.

        It could be the case that the North Koreans are bumping up against some of the same problems that we did 60 years ago, when we were developing our own rocket program. If we know what made it fail, we'll know what they'll have to change to make it work, and exactly what technological advancements NK will need for future rockets to be successful. We can target our intelligence/diplomatic/military energies on those precise technologies.

        Also, we'd probably be able to tell exactly what the purpose of this rocket was: ICBM or satalite. That can drastically alter the type and severity of potential US/UN retaliation.

        More knowledge is always better than less.

        • Also, we'd probably be able to tell exactly what the purpose of this rocket was: ICBM or satalite. That can drastically alter the type and severity of potential US/UN retaliation.

          And why would the US be interested in spending millions of dollars to retrieve and analyze the parts, only to find out that the missile was in fact for satellite purposes?

          It'd be some serious egg on the face of the world if North Korea really is just trying to get a satellite into orbit. Has anyone except the US and South Kor

  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:51PM (#27470161) Journal

    You'd think even North Korea could get a missile launch right. I mean, it's not rocke...err, oh yeah, nevermind.

  • Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:52PM (#27470179)

    The US government and the popular media have been spouting this nonsense that it was a "failure."

    BS.

    I guarantee you the NK engineers learned from this "failure." Tests aren't failures as long as you learn from them. Since we don't know whether or what NK learned from this, calling the test a "failure" is pure speculation.

    • Quite so... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by denzacar (181829) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:13PM (#27470403) Journal

      Particularly cause they DO plan to launch a few more.

      http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13432014&source=features_box_main [economist.com]

      For weeks, American military intelligence, using its own satellite images, had followed launch preparations at the Musudan-ri missile site near North Korea's eastern seaboard. Given that a brand-new missile complex is nearly finished on the western seaboard from which the next Taepodong-2 launch had been expected, the timing and place of these preparations caused some experts to scratch their heads. Yet South Korea is due to launch its first satellite into space this summer, so from the North's viewpoint, a space race is on. Other international factors probably played a part, of which the most important was to test President Barack Obama's new administration. Marginalisation ranks high among the regime's fears.

      Makes one wonder if they perchance don't have another one ready to be launched from the new launch site?

    • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zancarius (414244) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:27PM (#27470555) Homepage Journal

      The US government and the popular media have been spouting this nonsense that it was a "failure."

      I guarantee you the NK engineers learned from this "failure." Tests aren't failures as long as you learn from them. Since we don't know whether or what NK learned from this, calling the test a "failure" is pure speculation.

      I halfway agree with you. The fact that the missile made it over Japan was a success. However, be aware that in our own space program, whenever we had failures, we were often able to recover enough debris to determine precisely what the cause of the failure was. With the rocket splashed down somewhere in the Pacific, NK is only going to have pure speculation as to what the probable cause was. I can guarantee you that the US and her allies probably have a good idea where the upper stage and payload landed, and are probably planning on recovering it. After all, we need to know: 1) what the payload really was and 2) what the failure mode of the missile was in order to estimate how advanced their technology is.

      Plus, there's other advantages to having a splashdown in our backyard: We can prevent them from recovering the rocket and learning about their own failures except through further trial and error. Will NK eventually solve these problems? Probably. However, our best bet is to delay them.

      Remember, early in our space program, test failures were what happened when the rocket blew up on the launch pad. We could learn from that. No doubt NK did the same thing. However, whenever we had launch failures where a rocket came down a significant distance from the launch point, few things beat examining the wreckage for probable problems. Yes, we had extensive telemetry during flight, too, and maybe NK has that; but until the wreckage is recovered--hopefully by us--there's no telling how it failed. We stand to learn a lot from their failure, too, as I've mentioned before.

      One other poster below made the point about this being successful if the intent were to test the range of the rocket. I find that to be much more likely. As far as the story goes, however, the rocket itself was most likely a failure.

    • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Funny)

      by AlexBirch (1137019) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:47PM (#27470727) Homepage
      Tests aren't failures as long as you learn from them.
      Can you tell that to Dr. Boldyrev, my chemistry professor?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by S-100 (1295224)
      On the other hand, the NK engineers responsible for the failure could be facing a firing squad as we speak. In their regime, the actual cause of the failure may be less important to them than simply avoiding getting the blame.
    • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

      by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:39PM (#27471631) Homepage Journal

      Depends on the telemetry they were getting. If they laced sensors throughout the rocket and were transmitting back every last detail, then yes, they will have learned a hell of a lot.

      Chances are they didn't, which means they won't know what warning signs were evident, nor will they know precisely what bit failed, nor will they know how it failed or even exactly when it failed.

      Yes, failure can tell you a lot. Rolls Royce experimented with deliberately burning out their early aircraft engines to see where the points of failure were. They then re-engineered those parts. Not long after, they had perhaps the world's most powerful, most reliable engine built.

      A parallel would be for North Korea to do static test after static test, each time pushing the engine up to (and maybe beyond) design limits to see what fails, then re-design that part. Static tests can only tell you so much, but this would eliminate what are probably very fundamental design flaws.

      That is not the direction they are going, however. They are opting for political showmanship. A very dangerous form of showmanship at that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:54PM (#27470209)

    Let me guess, they couldn't figure out how to get the Photoshop crack to work.

    You have to overwrite the .dll file!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:55PM (#27470219)

    How is this a failure? They launched an ICBM that cleared Japan before hitting the water, thus proving they now have the capability to deliver a nuclear strike against Japan.

    If this was a test to see what the effective range was of the missile, then they absolutely determined that and there was no failure. While I dislike the way North Korea interacts with the rest of the world, I find the highly suggestive wording of the write-up to be misleading and inaccurate.

    I think we all knew the 'satellite' story was BS, so we can't evaluate the launch in terms of whether they put something in orbit or not. That part is irrelevant.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      How funny would it be if they actually called their shot and put the vehicle down right where they told NATO they would.

      And the free world news outlets are trumpeting the failure - all the while our generals are having aneurysms in the war room.

    • by Reapman (740286) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:16PM (#27470435)

      They've had missiles that could reach Japan for quite some time already... this was quite the failure for them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zancarius (414244)

      How is this a failure? They launched an ICBM that cleared Japan before hitting the water, thus proving they now have the capability to deliver a nuclear strike against Japan.

      If this was a test to see what the effective range was of the missile, then they absolutely determined that and there was no failure. While I dislike the way North Korea interacts with the rest of the world, I find the highly suggestive wording of the write-up to be misleading and inaccurate.

      As I mentioned in reply to another poster, th

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by goodmanj (234846)

      How is this a failure? They launched an ICBM that cleared Japan before hitting the water, thus proving they now have the capability to deliver a nuclear strike against Japan.

      They've been able to throw payloads as far as Japan for years [bbc.co.uk].

      If you're defining "success" as "no progress since 1993", then yeah, this latest test is a success.

      Which is funny, because that's exactly the definition the U.S. anti-ballistic-missile program has been using...

  • Eh (Score:4, Informative)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Sunday April 05, 2009 @07:57PM (#27470239)

    First-world nations had plenty [wired.com] of [wikipedia.org] problems [wikipedia.org] with their space programs at first too. Considering that North Korea has isolated itself, it's not surprising that they're going through the pain everyone else went through 60 years ago.

  • and like any troll, the only way to react to it is ignore it

    trolls feed on attention, any attention, psotive or negative. currently, north korea is basking in the joy of the world condemning it. just like a troll basks in the glory of watching people lose their temper over a purposely vitriolic post of theirs. just like westboro baptist church enjoys the hatred as they picket funerals

    it doesn't matter that it is being condemned. what matters is that it is the focus of attention. this is the essential psychopathology of their behavior

    if you ignore north korea, it will do progressively more and more dangerous things, all calculated to garner attention again. and then it will screw up, and then it can finally be taken down like the rabid dog it is

    not that any of this will happen though. all that will happen is it will continue to get way more attention than the basket case human suffering machine deserves

    north korea can't feed its own people. but it can launch icbms. pathetic troll of a country

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:06PM (#27470333) Homepage

      > if you ignore north korea, it will do progressively more and more dangerous things, all
      > calculated to garner attention again. and then it will screw up, and then it can finally
      > be taken down like the rabid dog it is

      At the cost of how many hundred thousand South Korean (and possibly Japanese) lives?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:12PM (#27470395)

      I live in Seoul, you insensitive clod!

      I am serious.

      And since you are an insensitive clod and most likely an American, consider this. Tens of thousands of American soldiers and civilians live in or near Seoul. Right now. That means they are within artillery range of North Korea. (No, I'm not kidding.)

      Feel better?

      It's so easy to make bold assertions when you don't know or care about the consequences...

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:04PM (#27470299)

    according to the US Northern Command and NORAD

    Not to get all tinfoil-hat on everyone, but has anyone closer to a neutral third party got any information?

    I don't doubt the NORAD report, but it might be nice to have a source without a vested interest make a report as well.

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:12PM (#27470393) Homepage

      If they were going to lie wouldn't you expect them to say the test was a success so that they could get ABM funding?

      In any case, I don't think that there is anyone with the resources to provide your verification that doesn't have a "vested interest".

    • by RoboRay (735839) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:15PM (#27470427)

      Few sources without a vested interest are equipped with the tracking radars and other equipment needed to verify whether or not the launch failed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rnelsonee (98732)

      Yeah, phrases like "complete and utter failure" don't really help. As far as I know, this was 100% successful - who's to say the second stage was even present? And a satellite? I know the administration told the public that they launched a satellite, but that doesn't mean they were really trying to do so. Many North Koreans aren't aware that we've even landed on the moon yet (according to a NatGeo documentary I saw), so it's not too hard to fool them.

      We do know that they launched a rocket a considerable

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Huntr (951770)

        Yeah, phrases like "complete and utter failure" don't really help

        Read the news release [northcom.mil] concerning this event from the U.S. Northern Command and NORAD. They did not use the word "failure" at all. Just your standard, dry, government news release.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is anyone going to spend the money for a global missile tracking system unless they have some sort of "vested interest"? I don't think so.

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:42PM (#27470689)
      Well, according to KCNA, the launch was a total success, a shining product of Korean self-reliance and an inspiration to the whole Korean people. No, really. [kcna.co.jp]
      • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:04PM (#27471813)

        Perfect. From the link you provided:

        Unha-2, which was launched at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province at 11:20 on April 5, Juche 98 (2009), accurately put Kwangmyongsong-2 into its orbit at 11:29:02, nine minutes and two seconds after its launch.

        The satellite is going round the earth along its elliptic orbit at the angle of inclination of 40.6 degrees at 490 km perigee and 1 426 km apogee. Its cycle is 104 minutes and 12 seconds.

        Mounted on the satellite are necessary measuring devices and communications apparatuses.

        The satellite is going round on its routine orbit.

        It is sending to the earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans "Song of General Kim Il Sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong Il" and measured information at 470 MHz. By the use of the satellite the relay communications is now underway by UHF frequency band.

        With that kind of info, there should be dozens of observatories that should be able to spot it. Or HAM radio guys to find the signal it's broadcasting.

        Anyone been looking for it yet?

  • by Auzzie (259025) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:14PM (#27470411)

    Far from a failure. North Korean Scientists put their satellite in an extremely low geosynchronous orbit!

    A bit wetter than they thought it would be though.

  • ICBMs (Score:3, Informative)

    by actionbastard (1206160) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:14PM (#27470413)
    Are designed to do one thing well, deliver a payload to a distant target within a certain CEP. That's why the 'B' in 'ICBM' stands for 'Ballistic'. Just like the NK ambassador to the UN said, "The test was a complete success." Duck and cover, children!
  • rocket science (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:14PM (#27470415) Homepage Journal
    To me that N. Korea got a vehicle even past first stage is impressive. Launch vehicles are hard. If nothing else managing a project that size requires a great deal of skill, I doubt the average MBA can do it. I recall at one place I worked we tried to find an MBA to help us manage. We couldn't find anyone so had to send on of the techs to MBA school.

    Even if we get the launch, space is not something we have a lot of first hand experience with. Getting things to work in space is hard. The world is getting more experience now that we have an international space station, and more countries are getting experience operating in space. This can only help everyone long term as innovative solutions are developed.

    One may fall to jingoistic and chauvinistic temptation when it comes to this, especially since we have been trained to fear those that are different from us, but I doubt that is useful here. From what I read, the trajectory was orbital, not intercontinental. As we have seen, there are much easier ways to deliver mass destruction than these vehicles. It could be that N. Korea wants to be in the space game, and have such things as communication satellites of their own.

    And it would be good that the US does not get too cocky. We are stuck in LEO. To get back to the moon is going to require a learning curve after a generation of inactivity. At this point we may not want to fund it. People think we can magically make it Mars without any baby steps. If there is anything to fear it is that N. Korea is doing science while we are arguing over evolution.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @08:44PM (#27470705) Homepage

    Nope, many of you probably don't. Around the time the Russians put up Sputnik, the American space program was centered around Project Vanguard. It was going to put our first satellite into orbit. And our first satellite was going to be way better than Sputnik.

    Only the rockets kept crashing. It became a source of national embarrassment and the subject of jokes.

    See this image [wikimedia.org], for examp.e.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jubedgy (319420)

      Another contributing factor to losing out to the soviets was the issue of overflight rights. At the time, we had been sending spy planes to take pictures of soviet territory (despite their objections). Since satellites would be flying over foreign countries, the issue of satellite overflight rights had to be decided (especially so we could use them to spy on the sovs). The US had two options: get their first (with the glory of being first), and hope that their were no foreign objections. After an orbit

  • North Korea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @10:07PM (#27471359)
    An alternate hypothesis.

    First off, we know that NK does NOT have nuclear weapons. So please be quiet about them nuking everything.
    Secondly, it would make no sense at all for NK to shoot anything. They are isolated, NK might make poor decisions but they won't choose to get every cubic meter of NK bombed.
    We also know Kim is full of himself. If he lived 5000years ago we would have people building him giant pyramids as monuments to his greatness. At the moment, the greatest achievement a country can make is space travel. Sure the US did it first so what? Right now china, japan and india have space programs and hope to stick a man on the moon. Space Race Asian Edition. Many countries think NK is a crazy backwards land that can't do anything since they are under a horrible tyrannical rule. If anyone felt that way about you wouldn't you want to prove them wrong? Show them how awesome and advanced you are by making it into space.

    NK is a bit nutty and isolated from the world. Clearly they must be assholes. But lets look at both sides. The korean war 'ended' poorly sure. Remember the end of WW1 where the global community basically fucked Germany in the ass after winning? Which lead to the bitchiness allowing/causing WW2. A mistake we did not repeat after WW2. So we decide to not trade with NK. Even put up trade barriers/embargoes internationally. Many thousands of people starve in North Korea while the world at large says, give up tyranny and we'll help you eat. (how well does that work?). North Korea is stuck on an island with enemies to the south. Enemies that are much better funded and better armed. They are also probably jealous of the fact and maybe a little pissed that their neighbors are doing so well. They need a bargaining chip. NK starts developing nuclear technology in the early 90s. Out of fear the US promises to provide electricity and normalized trade in exchange NK would disassemble their nuclear plants and join the NNPT. Korea agrees! They take apart their factories. The US changes to the republican party. They do not provide electricity, they do not normalize trade, they spit in NKs face. Bush calls NK part of the axis of evil and lists them as elligable for preemptive nuclear strikes. How the fuck the north koreans are the badguys in this one is beyond me. They were willing to normalize international relations given the chance and it was thrown in their face. So of course they will begin work on nuclear weapons again, they need a bargaining chip.

    Clearly NK does not have a good human rights record. Clearly it is terrible that people are starving. But the US policy of Good vs Evil is NOT helpful. Isolating a country, not letting them trade with you, threatening them, hating them does not help. I don't understand the idea that we can fix the problem by giving them an ultimatum they cannot possibly accept then never talking. It is like the 'hard on crime' laws that never seem to help either. Maybe if we offered a hand to NK that we dont use to stab them with they'll be a bit more trusting. Maybe with more money and education, a link to the rest of the world they can join us. A country cannot be evil it isn't a demon or even a person. If we keep going as we have how can you EVER expect countries like North Korea and Cuba to rejoin the rest of us, or maybe the truth is you don't really care.

    (man this went longer than I intended, sorry /.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      When you look at it, the same applies to most other "Axis of Evil" countries.

      Iran? Now, what would you do in their situation? A country that does not like you at all attacks and invades the countries left and right of you (look it up on your map, Iraq and Afghanistan, and look what's wedged right in the middle). Imagine Iran invading and maintaining beachheads in Canada and Mexico. Also imagine you're a wee bit smaller. Would you be confident that they don't sweep you off the map next? Also, consider that y

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