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Mission type Earth observation
Operator NADA
COSPAR ID 2016-009A
SATCAT № 41332
Mission duration 4 years (planned)
Start of mission
Launch date 7 February 2016, 00:30 UTC
Rocket Kwangmyongsong
Launch site Sohae Space Center
Orbital parameters
Reference system Sun-synchronous orbit
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 465 kilometres (289 mi)
Apogee 502 kilometres (312 mi)
Inclination 97.5 degrees
Period 94 minutes, 24 seconds
Chosŏn'gŭl 광명성―4호
Hancha 光明星4號
Revised Romanization Gwangmyeongseong-4 ho
McCune–Reischauer Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4

Kwangmyongsong-4 (Korean for Bright Star-4 or Lodestar-4) or KMS-4[1] is an earth observation satellite launched by North Korea on 7 February 2016.

The launch happened after North Korea conducted a nuclear test on 6 January and as the United Nations Security Council is deciding on sanctions to be placed on the country following the nuclear test. The launch was also timed to celebrate the 74th birthday of the late leader Kim Jong-il on February 16.


On 2 February 2016, North Korea sent a notification to the International Maritime Organization stating that the country is going to launch a Kwangmyongsong earth observation satellite with a launch window of 8–25 February between 22:30 UTC and 03:30 UTC given. The notification also included the drop zones for the first stage, the payload fairing and the second stage of the rocket, which was similar to the areas designated for the launch of Kwangmyongsong-3 Unit 2.[2]

On 6 February 2016, North Korea sent another notification to the International Maritime Organization stating that the launch window has been changed to 7–14 February.[3]


File:Kim Jong-un's order on launching Kwangmyongsong-4.jpg
Order on launching the satellite, signed by Kim Jong-un

The satellite was launched on 7 February 2016 at 00:30 UTC into roughly a sun-synchronous orbit well suited for an earth observation satellite,[4] using an Unha launch vehicle[5] at Sohae Space Centre in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province.[6] Regarded as sending a message to neighboring China, the launch also took place on the eve of the Chinese New Year.[citation needed]

It was initially claimed by U.S. officials that the satellite was "tumbling in orbit" and that no signals had yet been detected being transmitted from it.[7] However, it was later reported the tumbling had been brought under control and the orbit stabilized.[8]

The head of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command stated that Kwangmyongsong-4 was almost twice as large as Kwangmyongsong-3, and South Korean officials estimated the mass as 200 kilograms (440 lb).[9]

North Korea registered the satellite with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on May 9.[10]


The North Korean government organized a fireworks display in February 7, 2016 in commemoration of the launch.[11]

The South Korea, Japan, the United States and other countries have accused North Korea of testing a ballistic missile (Unha is the satellite launch version of Taepodong-2) capable of hitting the United States.[5][12] However, some experts believe North Korea is still a decade away from having the capability to successfully deliver a nuclear weapon by means of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and the launch shows slow, but continuous, progress.[13] The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency stated the launch was not a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.[8]

The launch was strongly condemned by the UN Security Council.[14][15][16] It prompted South Korea and the United States to announce that they would explore the possibility of deploying Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD),[17][18] an advanced missile defence system, in South Korea, which is strongly opposed by China[19] and Russia.[20]

See also


  2. "Launch notification reveals rocket drop zones - North Korea Tech". Retrieved 2016-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "All systems go? DPRK brings forward launch window - North Korea Tech". Retrieved 2016-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. John Schilling (9 February 2016). "North Korea's Space Launch: An Initial Assessment". 38 North. U.S.-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Retrieved 10 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ju-min Park; Jack Kim (7 February 2016). "North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbours, U.S." Reuters. Retrieved 7 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "DPRK announces successful launch of Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite - CCTV News - English". Retrieved 2016-02-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. North Korean satellite "tumbling in orbit," U.S. officials say -, 8 February 2016
  8. 8.0 8.1 Andrea Shalal; David Brunnstrom (10 February 2016). "North Korea satellite in stable orbit but not seen transmitting: U.S. sources". Reuters. Retrieved 10 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. David Brunnstrom (11 February 2016). "North Korea satellite not transmitting, but rocket payload a concern - U.S." Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Byrne, Leo (27 May 2016). "North Korea Registers Satellite with UN". NK News. Retrieved 27 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Ellis, Ralph; Kwon, K.J.; Ap, Tiffany; Hume, Tim (8 February 2016). "North Korea celebrates satellite launch with fireworks display". CNN. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Ralph Ellis, K.J. Kwon and Tiffany Ap, CNN (6 February 2016). "U.S., other nations condemn North Korean rocket launch -". CNN. Retrieved 7 February 2016. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Jack Kim; David Brunnstrom (9 February 2016). "North Korea turns to 'old workhorse' rocket to repeat past success". Reuters. Retrieved 9 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-02-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea launch -". CNN. Retrieved 2016-02-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  17. "China worried over US-South Korea plans to deploy THAAD missile system - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2016-02-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Korea says THAAD 'helpful' to security". koreatimes. Retrieved 2016-02-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbours, U.S." Reuters UK. Retrieved 2016-02-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Diplomat, John Power, The. "Russia: Korean THAAD Deployment Is a Security Threat". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2016-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links