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back to article North Korea's satellite a dud, say US astroboffins

North Korea may have successfully launched a satellite into orbit, as reported last week, but it might as well have deployed a pile of scrap metal, US-based astroboffins say. "It's clear that the rocket part of this mission worked very well for the North Koreans," Harvard astronomer John McDowell told The New York Times. "They …

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FAIL

Good

But what next?

Does the X-37b have an offensive ability?

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Coat

Re: Good

Does the X-37b have an offensive ability?

Yeah, it's got a picture of a guy giving the bird as it flies past.

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Rob
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Re: Good

This would definitely make a good training exercise for it, test out it's satellite killing/stealing abilities. N.Korea won't know as they have lost contact with it, plus they would be doing the busy routes up in orbit a favour.

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FAIL

Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

I'm so glad we don't have to worry about tyrants trying to rob the common folk of everything.. and the US/EU/Nippon space program never ever deals in warfare.. never ever ever..

Anyway - I'm gonna go eat some more grass now.. Baaabye.

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Megaphone

Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

Its all relative. When its worth it to risk life and limb to go as an economic refugee to China they are in their own league of misery. Having all the bark stripped off trees in public parks due starving people looking for any sustenance is something we in the West have no idea about. In the US we probably throw away more food each day than North Korea consumes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

Last stat I saw had the US throwing away more food each day than the US consumes (if consumes = actually eats).

(The rest of the West, including my home country, can't brag on that count either).

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Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

Well we should teach those nasty North Koreans a lesson by imposing sanctions on them.

No being able to buy iPads will really teach then how silly they are not to overthrow their tyrant leaders.

If that doesn’t work we should threaten them some more.

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Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

"...we should teach those nasty North Koreans a lesson by imposing sanctions on them."

The sanctions relate to North Korea signing the NNPT (to gain access to nuclear technology from other signatories) and then developing nuclear weapons in breach of the the same treaty. If their Chinese and Russian friends felt that the sanctions were wrong then they could have vetoed them - but they have not.

"If that doesn’t work we should threaten them some more."

It is North Korea that does all the threatening - and they increase the threats every time they want to extort more food aid from the countries with whom they are still at war. Whether they are shooting American tourists visiting the DMZ, shelling civilians on South Korean islands or aborting the babies of North Korean women returning from China, it is the NK regime that is dishing out all the violence.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

The North Koreans have been under US sanction, more or less, since 1950-53. That might have something to do with their current state. Still it serves 'em right for not bowing down to the Rightful Master, huh?

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Flame

Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

I think some people here don't know just HOW bad a place NK is.

It's not just a country that has adopted the hereditary principle for absolute dictator. It's also one that has adopted the same for "enemy of the state". When someone gets sent to an extermination camp ("re-education" camp), his family goes with him, kids and all. Once there, if they are lucky they are just worked to death. If they are unlucky, they are used for germ warfare research.

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FAIL

Re: Yeh North Korea - you stupid stupid.. place..

Kim is that you? Keep thinking its the US sanctions and not the Stalinist/Mao central economic planning and corruption that is causing their poverty. Google the Great Leap Forward to see what ideological economic planning can do to a nation. That had nothing to do with US sanctions either.

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Failure?

Is it known for sure that the satellite had any significant technical purpose? They have shown to themselves and the world that they are capable of launching a satellite into orbit - and that's a pretty big deal in itself. Maybe that's all this mission was designed to achieve. Now that they know they can do it successfully, perhaps the next one will have a proper function.

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Re: Failure?

Is it known for sure that the satellite had any significant technical purpose?

The satellite? No, that was just a pretext to launch a rocket AKA an ICBM - just swap satellite for weapon.

The silly thing with all this is that it has to be easier to just grow enough food than it is to go through the elaborate process of building some rockets and staging a nuclear weapons test, just to extort more aid from their enemies. It isn't about protection: China is NK's protection. The nuclear weapons testing and rocket launches only serve to annoy their protector and provide ammunition for their enemies in UN Security Council meetings.

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Joke

Re: Is it known for sure that the satellite had any significant technical purpose?

It gets whites clean in just 55 minutes?

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Re: Failure?

Maybe it *was* just a washing machine?

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FAIL

Re: Failure?

NK is producing washing machines?

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Coat

Re: Failure?

Maybe that's all this mission was designed to achieve. Now that they know they can do it successfully, perhaps the next one will have a proper function.

You mean maybe it actually was a washing machine?

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Mushroom

Re: Failure? Now for the manned launch.

IF that launch was a failure, I am sure that it did not go over well with the fill in the blank[1] leader of NK. And I suspect just who may just be announced as the first human launched into orbit by NK - the head of their rocket program.

<sarcasm>

It will be so unfortunate should that mission also end in failure.

After all, how do you expect to correct mistakes, if you can not directly observe them.

</sarcasm>

[1] Choose your desired synonym for 'nut', 'deluded ruler', etc as appropriate.

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Devil

Re: Failure?

Growing food does not contribute anything to controlling your own population. The rocket launch sole purpose was to ensure that the outer world gets pissed off and demonstrates its dislike. NK TV gets some authentic material to show its viewers how the world "hates" the "supreme technological achievement" of the "freedom loving people".

In order to understand NK you have to study Stalin who invented this ruling style. It is a form of perverse theocracy pretending to be communism which can exist only while the country is "on a state of a alert". So if you do not have a natural "state of alert" you end up having to create one and maintain it. Stalin invented enemies outside and enemies within by the dosen on a daily basis. This gave him the pretext to gain and maintain control over everything and everyone. All of this was combined with a cult towards his own personality.

In his case the driving force was rabid paranoia. I hope that in the NK case it is carefully calculated strategy. When Stalin's "stroke" was organized by Beria, Malenkow and Molotov we were 6 months away from WW3 - he ran out of pretexts and invented enemies.

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Re: Failure?

Enemies within? You mean like all these homegrown terrorists we're supposed to keep an eye open for?

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FAIL

Re: Failure?

No, he probably meant the public servants whose houses had a special door with no locks so that the kgb didn't have to break the door to go and get them.

No matter how much you despise them, trying to compare Stalin, or Hitler, to Western leaders is moronic

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Re: Failure?

By its actions it is almost certainly a tumble dryer.

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Mushroom

Re: Failure?

White Goods Annoy Red Army.

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if you do not have a natural "state of alert"

they could try a war on terror.

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"easier to just grow enough food "

Whilst I'm not denying that their time and expertise might be better spent farming, I've been there and driven around the country and everywhere - and I mean everywhere - I looked, every scrap of land that could be put to farming use appeared to have been. I saw people ploughing right (and I mean RIGHT) up against the edges of cliffs, someone was working tiny little scraps of land that you'd have to climb rocks just to get to with the earth turned (even inside the cities on rocky outcrops), the courtyard of a collapsed building with someone digging it, on and on and on, people walking serious distances each day to reach fields (I would hazard often simply living out in them for a few days at a time) to work them, just everywhere someone was trying to grow something. It's not for lack of effort.

Also, the trees; row after row after row of little sapling, marked with white stones to stop people accidentally stepping on them; thousands and thousands and thousands of them, lining road and rail everywhere I went. At some point in the last decade they have deforested on a serious scale (I'd hazard in a desperate attempt to keep warm) and now they're trying to grow more as quickly as they can.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't think it's that simple, based on my experiences there.

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Meh

Re: Failure?

Had they been intent on simply putting something in orbit, then a simple sphere would have been best as it would be almost impossible to detect if such a shape was stable or tumbling. For added giggles, putting a simple battery-powered transmitter into this sphere to transmit back some heavily edited downloaded satellite images would have heightened the sham, by giving the impression that the thing was actually functional.

As it is, they tried to put a strongly asymetrical device into orbit, which suggests that they were trying to go the whole hog all at once and put a functional system in place first time out. This would have greatly boosted the saleability of the whole rocket system (selling the tech to other undeveloped nations is the whole point here), as it is they merely have a working ICBM.

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Re: "easier to just grow enough food "

Good to hear from someone who has been there and experienced it themselves.

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@alfred

You are right, it certainly isn't that simple. However, if they did devote a little less time to rather bonkers hotels and icbm's \ nukes and a little more energy to developing their economy as a whole their people would probably be better off. Exporting some items to pay for imported food and fertiliser etc. I remember NK being given significant amounts of fertiliser previously to 'behave'. What was your impression of the level of technology involved in their farming? I don't know enough of their geography to say if they could be self sufficent, but improving their soils and techniques should reduce the food shortages.

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Working ICBM?

Or maybe not. Tumbling uncontrollably presents considerabe difficulties to re-entry without burning up. (I really hope so).

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Re: Failure?

It was a satellite launch and always planned as such. The trajectory for a satellite to enter orbit is completely different from that for a ballistic missile (it's generally with a lower apogee) and the North Korean rocket performed a dog-leg manoeuvre to avoid overflying populated areas. We have to accept that NK has a satellite programme.

Where their ballistic missile programme might have benefitted is that the country now has much better experience of building large, powerful motors and flying rockets in hypersonic regimes.

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Trollface

Re: Failure?

@Richard Altmann - NK is producing washing machines?

Yes, and they'll deliver them to your... roof... from half a world away...

Although to be fair, its a bit rough on the poor guy who has to go along and get a signature...

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FAIL

After reading this, I doubt that their nuclear bombs work correctly either.

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funny that

They don't need nukes to screw over SK and the world economy as well. With Seoul being so close to the DMZ from what I understand with conventional weapons they could pretty much suicide and cause 10x more havoc than 9/11. The nuclear is a phallic thing and a bargaining chip.

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Mushroom

Axis of Evil's untouchable

When Dubya & Bliar were going on about the axis of evil developing nukes, Saddam said I'm not, Kim said I am and Amerdinajad said nothing.

Iraq got invaded, NK got aid. What message does that send to Iran or any other rogue state?

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Anonymous Coward

let's hope

they don't decide to prove you wrong

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Happy

So glad we're not totally taking the piss out of a rogue nuclear state.

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Meanwhile Britain

Hopes to develop the technology to build a washing machine size lump of scrap

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Trollface

Re: Meanwhile Britain

After tranche 3 though it will be refrigerator sized and BAE will be billions over budget.

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Trollface

Re: Meanwhile Britain

Lewis? Is that you ?

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Re: Meanwhile Britain

Surly they should just buy one from the US...

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Re: Meanwhile Britain

Ah, so you're Lewis.

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Happy

Re: Meanwhile Britain

No, I'm Lewis- and so is my wife...

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Re: Meanwhile Britain

I Am Spartacus! (too bad %90 of people on here far too young to catch the reference)

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Unhappy

Re: Meanwhile Britain

We did. Wasn't it called the Beagle or something like that? Got scrapped on Mars if my memory serves me still.

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"is thought to house a camera"

And how would they bring back the film to develop the photos?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "is thought to house a camera"

Easy... it has a small post card attached to the outside of it saying "If found, please return to N. Korea".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "is thought to house a camera"

But will never be returned because they can't afford to put a stamp on it.

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Re: "is thought to house a camera"

Well the US used to dump it in the sea and go pick it up. Of course NK aren't allowed out, and they can hardly knock on anyone else's door to ask for their ball back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "is thought to house a camera"

"But will never be returned because they can't afford to put a stamp on it."

Well if I find it I'll steam an unfranked stamp off a Christmas card and use that. How's that for generosity?

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Re: "And how would they bring back the film to develop the photos?"

The eighties called; they want their photographic film back and they're willing to swap you off-the-shelf 21st century digital technology.

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