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According to experts, the initial North Korean surveillance satellite is currently functional and under control.
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According to experts, the initial North Korean surveillance satellite is currently functional and under control.

Experts in space have reported that the initial spy satellite from North Korea is functioning, as they have detected alterations in its orbit that indicate Pyongyang has effective control over the spacecraft. However, the specific capabilities of the satellite remain unknown.

Following two unsuccessful attempts, North Korea effectively placed the Malligyong-1 satellite into orbit in November. According to Pyongyang’s state media, the satellite has captured images of confidential military and political locations in South Korea, the US, and other places; however, no photographs have been made public. Despite this, individual radio trackers have not detected any signals from the satellite.

“In a recent blog post, Marco Langbroek, a satellite specialist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, was able to confirm the functionality of the satellite.”

Between February 19 and 24, the satellite performed maneuvers to increase its perigee altitude from 488 km to 497 km (equal to 303.2 miles to 308.8 miles), according to information from the Combined Space Operations Center headed by the US.

The demonstration indicates that Malligyong-1 is still functioning, and that North Korea maintains command of the satellite, which was previously in question,” he stated.

The defense ministry of South Korea has confirmed that the satellite is in orbit, but they have chosen not to make any additional comments on the specific analyses. On Monday, defense minister Shin Won-sik stated that the satellite is not displaying any indications of carrying out additional tasks or engaging in reconnaissance.

“According to Langbroek, Shin mentioned that although there is uncertainty about the satellite’s ability to capture images, it is able to perform orbital maneuvers, making it functional for the time being.”

According to him, the recent orbit-raising maneuver caught him off guard because the presence of an onboard propulsion system was not anticipated. Additionally, he noted that previous North Korean satellites had never undergone such a maneuver.

Langbroek stated that being able to increase the satellite’s orbit is significant.

This meant that if the satellite had fuel, North Korea could extend its lifespan by increasing its altitude to counter orbital decay, according to his findings.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and orbital tracking expert at Harvard, stated that the satellite seemed to be adjusting its location in the Earth’s orbit as it moved towards its intended position after being launched. He also mentioned that the satellite was not equipped to perform acts of aggression towards other countries’ satellites due to its small size.

The top space powers in the world – US, Russia, and China – have launched satellites that have advanced abilities to maneuver and examine other objects in orbit.

However, corporations and nations frequently adjust the positioning of their satellites in orbit for various purposes. These may include avoiding collisions with other satellites or space debris, or being able to observe a specific area of Earth.

The US Space Command, responsible for monitoring orbiting objects and evaluating their purpose, has not yet made a statement regarding the North Korean satellite.

North Korea, a country with nuclear weapons, has made a promise to send out three additional spy satellites by the year 2024.

Source: theguardian.com